EAGER: Ravi Rampaul

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Fitness first

Rampaul pleased with IPL selection, but...

By Roger Seepersad

West Indies pacer Ravi Rampaul is eager to be part of the Indian Premier League this year but his first priority is Trinidad and Tobago's first round matches in the Regional four-day and Regional Super50 tournament next week.

Rampaul was bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore for $290,000 at the 2013 IPL auction last weekend.

"I was very happy to be bought by Royal Challengers Bangalore. Since the IPL started I always wanted to be part of it and I hope that I make good use of the opportunity of playing in the IPL and I perform to the best of my ability and give my all," he said of playing in the lucrative league.

But sidelined since December last year, the T&T pacer is itching to get back onto the field of play and is targeting a return to the regional side for the upcoming home series against Zimbabwe which starts at the end of the month.

But before that he, will have to prove to the regional selectors that he is indeed back to full fitness when T&T tackle the Windward Islands at Arnos Vale, St Vincent in their four-day match starting on Friday.

"The four-day is coming up together with the one-day, so I am focusing on that right now," Rampaul insisted.

"I am trying to give it all for my country…trying to get back playing cricket and ease my way back into the bowling and hopefully pick up some wickets and get back on the West Indies team for the Zimbabwe tour," he added.

The right-arm pacer's first competitive outing this year was against Canada in a Twenty20 match on Thursday night and although he did not pick up any wickets, it was good practice for the 28-year-old pacer who says he is 100 per cent fit and ready for a return to the Test team.

Speaking about the injuries that kept him on the sidelines during T&T's Caribbean T20 triumph last month, Rampaul said: "Basically my knee was giving me some problems and then I had a groin injury coming out of the Bangladesh tour and those were the two injuries that were bothering me a bit but both are healed 100 per cent now so that is a positive for me.

About missing the final edition of the Caribbean T20, the pacer said: "I am disappointed. Injury kept me out of it. It is always disappointing not being able to play in a tournament but not getting to represent Trinidad and Tobago was really tragic for me.

"I really wanted to play knowing that it was the last Caribbean T20 but that is how things go sometimes. I just have to take it how it comes.

On the positive side, Rampaul said the down time "gave me a chance to rest and recover from all the injuries that I have had and work on my fitness and try and get fitter.

He explained that he has been putting in a lot of extra work and that he is seeing improvement in his fitness levels.

"I have been doing some work with trainer Ronald Rogers. We have been doing a lot of training and a lot of weight training, trying to get my fitness back up to 100 per cent. It is has been going great so far and I just want to continue working hard," the PowerGen pacer explained.

And although Rampaul is eager to play T20 in the IPL, he believes he still has a lot to offer in Test cricket.

Asked about the possibility of claiming his 50th Test wicket this year, Rampaul said: "I ended the Bangladesh tour on 49 wickets so I have to wait and if get a chance to play Test cricket this year, I will be looking to get to that milestone but it is not just about getting to 50 wickets.

"It is about carrying on and getting a whole heap of wickets and making a name for myself and helping West Indies win matches.

"As I play and get more experience, I feel that I have a lot to give in Test cricket so it is just for me to continue working hard, continue getting fitter and perform to the best of my ability," Rampaul concluded.

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