Visakhapatnam: Right-arm seamer Mukesh Kumar, who made his international debut across all formats earlier this year during the West Indies tour, has set his sights on a long stint with the Indian team starting with the upcoming T20I series against Australia.
New-look India will clash against Australia in a five-match T20I series starting on Thursday here, which will give both these rivals a good run in the format given that the next T20 World Cup is about seven months away.
The 30-year-old Mukesh is determined to make the opportunity count as he looks to build on his success earned in the domestic circuit and the Indian Premier League, which led to his national call-up.
"I want to regularly play for my country, that will be my first achievement. I want to continue focusing on the processes. I am seeing the results of sticking to them, so, I want to keep focusing and moving forward,” he told Jio Cinema.
Mukesh, who plays for the Delhi Capitals in the IPL, believes that the T20 competition produces 'toughest matches' and help the Indian players prepare well.
"IPL produces the toughest matches. All teams are filled with international players and that too, they are amongst the best. To play on this stage is really very tough and a very good experience for me,” Mukesh said.
Having shared the dressing room with senior India pacer Ishant Sharma, Mukesh recognises the support the lanky pacer has provided to him.
"As far as the role of Ishant bhaiya (Sharma) is concerned, he supported me a lot. He explained my role in the team very clearly, so I just wanted to be honest with what I was expected to do,” he said.
Mukesh made his debut in Test cricket first and his first games in ODI and T20Is followed soon and the Bengal seamer says it was a humbling experience sharing the dressing room with players he had only seen on TV.
"When I first saw my India teammates, my mind stopped functioning briefly. I thought these were the players I watched on TV till yesterday and today I was getting a chance to warm up and share the dressing room with them,” he said.
"Virat (Kohli) bhai told me I was bowling well. Rohit (Sharma) bhai, too, came and spoke to me when the practice matches were going on and gave suggestions,” he recalled.
The road to the national team was a tough one for Mukesh.
"My family would stay in Kolkata but I wouldn’t stay there. I would keep travelling to play tennis ball cricket which would fetch me about Rs 500 per match,” he said.
"Suddenly, there was a phase when my father insisted that I should stay with the family. I was looking for a job and my father asked me to look out for cricketing opportunities in Kolkata. I got a chance to play in the First Division after giving trials. We did not have that much money for me to purchase a full kit. I used to bat also earlier, but I shifted focus to bowling because of the lack of money,” he added.