Adam Gilchrist exclusive: I love the biryani in Hyderabad

Former Australian cricketer and star wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist was in the city in order to promote tourism in Australia ahead of the much-awaited World T20 tournament next year. mid-day.com caught up with Gilchrist, who spoke about the favourites going into the tournament, players to watch out for as well as the beauty of Australia.

Have you witnessed the enthusiasm for cricket, whenever you have played the game in India?Yes definitely! For the past 22 years, I have been visiting India. First, it was as an international cricketer. After retirement, I have different roles to play when I visit the country. It is a fascinating place to come to. During my playing days, it was very hard on the field. But off the field, the way people embrace you and accept you through their passion for the game is just amazing. I have never felt anything but a lot of love from Indians.

Be it coming back to catch up with ex-Indian cricketers or current players or just the fans, it is always a great experience.

As the World T20 will be hosted in Australia next year, which team according to you has the best chance to win the title and why?Well, T20 cricket is an unpredictable format and 12 months is hard to say who the favourite is, let alone who is going to win the World T20. Although, in Australian conditions and the grounds we have in Australia, the home team will be very strong and could pose a threat in the tournament. Australia is focusing on picking a strong T20 team, while we have tended to rest players in bilateral series.

India too will always be a strong competitor as they play a lot of T20 cricket and are a talented group. I expect New Zealand would do well and England to be a force in white-ball cricket. And of course, Pakistan is the number one ranked team in the world in this format, so probably any one of these five. However, the West Indies could just turn it on, so you just don't know really.

Who are the cricketers to watch out for during next year's World T20?Steve Smith has been showing an amazing appetite for run-scoring in general and is playing some wonderful knocks back in Australia in T20. He is usually not a big power hitter, but he hits the ball in all parts of the ground and that will be important in Australian conditions - not only hitting sixes, but also getting in those twos and threes. Then there's Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and Babar Azam who is the number one player in this format.

In the bowling category, there's Jasprit Bumrah, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, who serve the team well as bowling options.

Talking about tourism in Australia, how has it helped cricket and vice-versa?In Perth and West Australia, where I live, people are really keen to broaden the relationship with India and encourage Indians to come down under and experience what we have to offer. It is the closest point to India and Australia, so we would love to see direct flights coming in. At the moment, there is no direct flights into Perth, but people could come via Singapore and Asia.

If the World T20 can help make that decision... India is opening their WT20 campaign in Perth against South Africa, what a great way to fly down directly to Peth and experience cricket there before moving to Melbourne or Sydney. There are various shared areas of interest between India and Australia, not only in business and economic sense but also the educational sense and obviously - shared passion for cricket. So there are plenty of reasons why we would love people of India to experience the beauty here, while in Australia, I do tell people to visit India as it is a fascinating experience.

What are the places in India that you love to visit?I just love the city of Mumbai. It is a vibrant city. I do love going up North India to Dharamsala which is very beautiful to getaway. Also, the beaches of Goa. It is such a cross-section of experiences.

Have you tried street food in Mumbai?Well, I think I have tried almost everything here. I have been visiting for 23 years and I have always loved Indian cuisine. I often put on too much weight when in India as I eat too much. The three years I had in Hyderabad, I enjoyed the biryanis.

Like India, Perth too is such a multi-cultural experience. A lot of Indians who visit are very heartened by the dining experience. There is so much variety, and there is a huge Indian population in Perth to cater to Indian local cuisine dining options.

One thing that you would like Indian fans to check out in Australia.There are so many to talk about in Western Australia, but I think in Peth, the easiest and best tourist attraction would be a small island off Perth known as Rottnest Island. It is around 30 minutes of a ferry ride from Perth. There are no cars on the island so people either walk around or ride a bike. You will experience some of the best beaches in the world and go snorkelling, surfing and diving. On land, there are some great cafes and restaurants to eat at and a great history to the island to learn about. There you find the most delightful and friendly animal called the quokka. The place is also safe for families. As there is no traffic, children can run around without any fear of vehicles. Safety-wise it is perfect.

Watch the full interview video below.

How do you intend to celebrate your 48th birthdayI will be at home and spend it with my family.

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