Interview of Cricket Fans – 165 – INDIA
You play, watch, read and try to write and analyze Cricket, firstly tell us your journey as a cricketer.
My journey as a cricketer started much in the same way as millions of other kids journeys start in India. I became genuinely fascinated with the game when I was 7. I got admitted to an academy when I was 10.
My father was my first coach though. Learnt the basics of having a straight bat and getting my feet in line of the ball from him even before I joined the academy. That helped me in learning the basics of batting slightly quicker than others.
I developed a solid technique in the first few years, though I didn’t develop a lot of shots. Had to balance my cricket and studies, so couldn’t focus completely on cricket. But I never went away from the game, kept trying and giving as much as I could while still maintaining a decent standard of education.
Got selected for my district U-16 team. That was the first time I was exposed to high-quality training. Learnt a lot during that phase. Unfortunately, though, I could never perform to my potential. I am a left-handed opening batsman, who bowled right-arm medium pace in those days and bowl off-spin now. As a batsman, you need big runs, which never came. All I could manage were those cute 20s, 30s.
Anyway, as my engineering started, I used to get lesser time for my cricket. After a while though, I realized that I can’t just let the cricket I have in me drift away. So from the last two years, I have been giving it my all, trying to prioritize cricket as much as possible, while drifting through engineering. Last season, between the first and second waves of the pandemic, was my best season so far. Played several match-winning innings, even took my first five-for. In fact, I surprised myself with my bowling, taking 30 wickets in 15 games, some of which were of 20 overs, some 30, some 45 and so on.
Looking forward to carrying on this momentum into the next season, and possibly have a breakthrough season in the Kolkata Divisional tournaments, so that I could get noticed by the state selectors.
What is your earliest memory of this sport and who was your favourite player growing up?
My earliest memory of the sport is playing with a pencil-box sized bat and a rather big softball on the bed, with my father. I must have been 3-4 years old then.
My first memory of cricket as I know it now is going to the Eden Gardens for the first time with my father. It was 2007. Sri Lanka had come over for an ODI series. Dad had 2 tickets, so he took me. I was reluctant. Didn’t enjoy watching cricket at that time. But when I entered the stadium and felt the atmosphere, something in me clicked, and I was hooked. That game got washed out but left a deep impression on me and my life took a turn for the better.
You have written plenty of articles for Cricxtasy, what are the things that you learnt during your journey as a writer?
Writing cricket has taught me and is continuing to teach me how to build and tell stories. I always get fascinated reading cricket pieces, especially ones describing some special event. For example, I spent almost one week after the Gabba Test, trying to find and read all the literature I could get my hands on with regards to that game and that series. I have always wanted to write like that. Writing for Cricxtasy has allowed me to take the first step in that direction.
I am a fan of that picture you have as your header, tell us the emotions behind it.
I don’t think words can do justice to what I felt at that time and what I continue to feel about that moment. After the 36 all-out debacle, I had texted these exact words to my friend: “Rahane bhai jo bhi zarurat hoga bol dena. Roz subah 4:30 baje uth ke India, India chillana hai? Done.” I woke up before the first ball every day. Watched each and every ball. After Adelaide, I almost felt like it was my responsibility as a fan to cheer and support team India, even more so after all the off-field stuff that was going on. Silly I know, but it is what it is. This is what cricket means to me. And when Rishabh Pant hit that off drive, it felt like I was there. It felt like a victory for me which I would boast about as a personal achievement wherever possible. I have not yet watched the highlights of any match of that series. Want to preserve the original memory I have for as long as possible. I will turn to that series and that moment in my header whenever the going gets tough in life.
What are the positives that India can take from the WTC final defeat?
The biggest positives I feel are the assurance which the openers have shown against the moving new ball, especially Rohit Sharma, and of course, the magic of Ravichandran Ashwin. Another slightly underrated positive I feel was the way Rahane batted, especially in the first innings. Although there are some calls to drop him, I feel he might as well turn out to be the X-Factor for us in the England series.
What would the probable line-up be for the first test against England which starts from August?
There are reports of some major shakeup. But I am not entirely sure how much of it is true. For the first test, I don’t see a lot of changes happening. Maybe Siraj can come in for Ishant, given he picked up an injury. And if the pitch is green, there’s a chance that Shardul Thakur might replace Jadeja, although that seems very improbable.
Expected XI for the 1st Test: Rohit, Gill, Pujara, Kohli, Rahane, Pant, Jadeja/Shardul, Ashwin, Shami, Bumrah, Siraj.
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