Sourav Ganguly hails him as the best fast bowler in India at the moment while Allan Donald sees a lot of himself in Ashok Dinda. The Bengal pacer, who was the second-highest wicket-taker in the previous Ranji Trophy season and did well in IPL 5, has been a part of India's past two limited-overs tours and acquitted himself well in the recent Twenty20 international win over Sri Lanka with 4 for 19. Dinda was rewarded with a place in India's squad for September's ICC World Twenty20.
The 28-year-old's ultimate dream, though, is to play Test cricket for India. Excerpts from Dinda's interview with Cricketnext ...
The 2011-12 domestic season was a rite of passage in your career. You bowled long spells and claimed a bagful of wickets.
Yes, last season was a turning point in my career. I picked up 69 wickets in nine matches for my team and helped them win some matches. I grew as a bowler and it was very satisfying that my efforts were rewarded with a place in Indian team.
You always seem to excel while playing under Sourav Ganguly, be it with Bengal or Pune Warriors in the IPL. There must be a reason behind this? He's also your staunchest supporter.
Ganguly is like a big brother to me. He knows me from the time when I had not even made my first-class debut. He closely follows my progress and gives me his candid opinion and suggestions. Last year, he saw me pounding away, bowling relentless without a flicker of fatigue and notching up a lot of wickets. He observed that I've become a wiser and a complete bowler. That is the reason he speaks so fondly about me. But mind you, he's critical when I don't do well.
As far as blossoming under Ganguly is concerned, it is a known fact how he supports and understands youngsters. He's not rigid and always open to discussions on any matter. He gives me the kind of field I want but always chips in with suggestions. He reads the game well and keeps telling me the areas where I must bowl to a particular batsman. It's a delight to play under him.
Allan Donald says that you remind him of his younger days.
This is the best compliment someone has paid me. Coming from a man of his eminence, it made me delighted. I owe a lot to him. He is our bowling coach in Pune Warriors and always willing to share his experience with team-mates. He taught me some great tips on how to outthink a batsman. He helped me to develop yorkers and bouncers. He's a very approachable and humble human being.
Fast bowling is the toughest job in cricket. How do you cope up with toil, injuries and disappointments which come with the territory of being a fast bowler?
Just one thing drives me - to play for my country. It is worth all the toil and sweat. Had I not plugged away in the last domestic season, would I have made it to the Indian team? Injuries and disappointments are part of sportsman's life. One has to deal with some tough times but in the end playing for country makes everything else worthless.
What inspired you to become a fast bowler?
I belong to a small village near Kolkata. When I enrolled for coaching, my coach, Atal Dev Burma, observed me for a couple of days in the nets and asked me to choose between fast bowling and batting. I told him that I love both but he insisted to choose one of them as the primary skill so I chose fast bowling.
Which are the happiest moments of your career?
Last year, I took ten wickets against Baroda in a Ranji Trophy match on a placid wicket. That was a special effort. And also my first Twenty20 wicket which was Sanath Jayasuriya. To get a destructive batsman like him out as a first wicket gave me abundant joy.
Who are your favourite fast bowlers?
Shoaib Akhtar for his break-neck pace and bravado, and Glenn McGrath for his immaculate line, length and discipline.
What advice would you give to a kid if he comes to you and expresses the desire to become a fast bowler?
(Laughs) I will plainly say, "Become a batsman. Cricket has become all about batting with wide bats and smaller grounds. Fast bowlers are reduced to being pawns." On a serious note, I'll tell him to be prepared for the rigours and variations that fast bowling entails. But if they have passion, attitude and fire in the belly, fast bowling can be their calling.