Rajasthan Royal's allrounder Rahul Tewatia, who earned a maiden India call-up for the series against England early this year after starring in IPL 2020, wants to take every match in the remainder of the 2021 edition seriously because "you never know which match can change the course of your career." The second leg of the competition resumes in the UAE on September 19, with Royals taking on Punjab Kings on September 21 at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
"IPL is obviously a huge opportunity for all the players, and it's no different for me," Tewatia said. "But honestly, these opportunities are not just limited to the IPL. I think all the domestic matches are equally important and my mindset is that they're all very crucial for me and my growth as a player. You never know which match can change the course of your career, and for that same reason, I take each match as the biggest ever of my career."
Interestingly, Tewatia hogged the limelight against Kings in IPL 2020 when he produced an innings to remember - he struck 53 off 31 after being 5 off 13 to help Royals chase down 224. Overall, the spin-bowling allrounder has aggregated 452 runs and picked up 26 wickets in 41 IPL matches.
With Royals resuming their campaign against Kings, he said: "I am really looking forward to it [playing against Kings], however, not just that match, but all the seven matches. I like to play all my matches with the same intensity and intent, but of course, there are good memories facing PBKS, so it feels special.
"It also gives me great belief and confidence that I can produce similar performances and do something extraordinary whatever the situation may be. My intent will always be to make the team win from anywhere."
Royals are placed fifth in the table currently with three wins from seven matches. After being the flavour of the season for Royals in 2020, when Tewatia ended up scoring 255 runs in 14 matches at an average of 42.50 and picking up 10 wickets at seven runs per over, he didn't find much success in the first half of the IPL 2021, in India. He scalped two and hit 86 runs in seven matches. However, Tewatia believes that the hard yards he had put in during the offseason in Faridabad, which includes working on his wrist position among others, will help him put up a much better show.
"I know my performances weren't up to the mark with regards to the high expectations I keep of myself both when it comes to batting and bowling," he said. "However, I will put in the effort to improve the output in the next seven matches that we are scheduled to play in the UAE.
"Bowling-wise, there were a few areas we had identified during the season where I could improve. Sometimes, you don't realize it when you're constantly playing, but things like your wrist position can become inexact. So I had the chance to work on it and bowl with a set rhythm.
"In terms of batting, I want to maintain my natural game and don't really want to be making a lot of changes. I want to maintain my process and keep doing the things which have produced results for me and just back my strengths."
Tewatia, who is aiming "to excel in the role of a lower-middle order batsman and a finisher when it comes to batting", also feels that the team's increased fitness levels will be crucial in producing good results in the UAE as they are "familiar with the conditions".
"I had the chance to train under the guidance of our Strength and Conditioning Coach AT Rajamani Prabhu, and focused on my strength, speed and agility, which are crucial. I kept following the schedules at home as well, and I think if you see, the whole team has maintained fitness and I'm confident it'll reflect on the field as well."