Pacer Sandeep Warrier boarded the chartered flight to Sri Lanka as a net bowler, but deservedly returned as an India international.
On how he felt while making his India debut
It was self explanatory. It has been more than 15 years since I began playing cricket, at the district level in Kerala. It was a long wait and I can’t express my emotions in words. The feeling of getting the India cap was completely different.
On playing for India nine years after making his First-Class debut
COVID-19 was not in anyone’s plans, it just happened. Even Rahul Dravid sir spoke about how unfortunate I was. He said: “You were in good form in early 2020. If not for the coronavirus, you would have played a lot of India ‘A’ matches. Stay motivated and do what you have been doing. Also, try improving your skill-sets. These are the only things which can be done right now. Just wait for your chance.”On the discussions he had with captain Shikhar Dhawan and vice-captain Bhuvneshwar Kumar
The day we came out of the mandatory quarantine in Mumbai, I had a chat with Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar. At that time, I was just a net bowler and not a part of the squad. They were very supportive. Both spoke about their routines and the mindset they have during the ups and downs in their career. It was good to have a chat with them on the first day itself. They also asked me to think about the many ways in which I could contribute to the team.
On the priceless pieces of advice that
head coach Rahul Dravid offered him
I worked with Rahul sir for only one series in the India ‘A’ set-up. A few days before making my India debut, I spoke to Rahul sir about how fatiguing the bio-bubbles are. I have been moving from one bubble to another since the start of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. After IPL 2021 came to a halt, I had to battle COVID-19. Once I recovered, I entered the Team India bubble in Mumbai in June. I talked to him about my schedule. I was doing fine physically, but I wanted his advice on how to tackle the situation mentally. Rahul sir accepted that it is tough for everyone to stay in bubbles for a long time, but said that the circumstances are not in our control. He asked me to take one session at a time.
On the camaraderie he shared with other members of the net-bowling contingent, which he was initially a part ofWe were together in every training session. We also watched the matches with each other in our hotel rooms. We used to play games in the team room. We became pretty close because we spent a lot of time together in the last 40 days. We named our group the ‘Bomb Squad’. It was not about who made the India debut. We just enjoyed each other’s success. Eventually, I got the India cap and was fortunate enough.