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"IPL helped me get the national call"
In an interview with, fast bowler Vinay Kumar said he was looking forward to the opportunity of representing the country.
By Kashinath Bhattacharjee
Wasim Jaffer's father was a bus-driver. Yousuf and Irfan Pathan's dad was a Muezzin and Munaf Patel's father was a farmer. Mohd Kaif and RP Singh too, hailed from humble backgrounds. If you go back a few decades, Eknath Solkar, the most brilliant catcher in the history of test cricket, was a son of a groundsman of Hindu Gymkhana, Mumbai.
Who says cricket is a game played only by the royals?
Add to it, the new sensation of Indian cricket, R Vinay Kumar, the Davangere-lad from Karnataka who had been selected to represent India in the forthcoming ICC T20 World Cup. His father was an auto-rickshaw driver.
Hard work pays, they say. And it paid rich dividends as the eldest son of Soubhagya and Ranganath, earned his first national call from the Indian selectors. The 26-year-old Vinay is both relieved and excited.
Q: Earning the first call for national duty is always a cherished dream for any sportsman. How happy are you now?
A: I really cannot tell you how happy I am! Words cannot describe it. I was really looking forward to this opportunity of representing my country. Worked really hard towards the dream. And now, I am in the team! Thanks to the selectors, my parents, my coaches - everyone. It is because of them I could achieve my dream.
Q: And you could not have timed it better. It's the ICC T20 world cup!
A: Yeah, that makes the joy doubled. To play for India and that too, in a World Cup is really the icing on the cake. Yes, it could not have been better.
Q: Have you ever been to the West Indies?
A: No, I have been to Australia and South Africa.
Q: For a fast bowler, it must be a dream land...
A: Yes, but what I had gathered from people is the wickets there now are a lot like Indian wickets. If it is so, it'll suit me. And before going there, I would like to speak to Anil-bhai, Rahul-bhai and Srinath-Bhai. They have always stood by me.
Q: Did you receive any telephone call from Anil Kumble, your captain in the Bangalore team?
A: Yes. He called me to congratulate and to say that this is the opportunity I was looking forward to and once I get this, I have to go out and prove myself. He had been an inspiration, always. There was a time when I used to send text messages to Anil-bhai, saying that I was overlooked again. He used to reassure me that my days would come, so I should not lose hope and keep working on my bowling. He was really happy.
Q: And what did your teammates in Bangalore, say?
A: Everybody was happy for me. They had congratulated me today for making it to the Indian team. Venky-bhai (Venkatesh Prasad) called me. He was our coach in the Ranji team, two seasons before. Rahul-bhai congratulated me too.
Q: Rahul Dravid was one of your idols, right?
A: Yeah, that sounds surprising, but as I started my cricket as a batsman, Rahul-bhai was always someone I wanted to look up to. So, it was an honour be there in the same dressing room with him and Anil-bhai.
Q: And, who is your bowling idol?
A: Brett Lee. I used to be hooked to the television set to see him bowl continuously at 155-158 kmph.
Q: Among the Indian fast bowlers?
A: When I was growing up, two of the Karnatakis used to dominate the Indian pace bowling scene. Later, I am really fortunate to be in touch with both of them - Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad.
Q: What does this call up mean to your family?
A: It means a lot. We were not that affluent. Life was really difficult for all of us. Being the eldest of my siblings, it was my duty to try and look after my family. But I was too hooked to cricket. And Dad had always been so supportive. My family had encouraged me to continue chasing my dreams on the cricket field despite the situation they were in. They had sacrificed a lot for me. Today, I am so happy for them.
Q: Since you have earned an India-cap, have you set any targets before yourself?
A: See, I do not like to set any targets except that, I have to give my best whenever I would be called upon. And T20 is a different ball game where you have to think ball-by-ball. If I can bowl well in the West Indies, it would be good for my cricketing future.
Q: You must be thanking IPL, for, it helped you earn your national call?
A: How can I forget that? I have been bowling well in the domestic circuit. (In fact, he had 53 wickets this season and 47 in the last season to top the charts in domestic cricket). I knew, if I could do well here, it will enhance my chances of representing India. Moreover, it is the experience of the first IPL that had made me understand the importance of thinking while bowling against better batsmen. I started to work more on my bowling after that and developed slowers. This year, two spells against Mumbai and Chennai, had helped me a lot to clinch a place.
Q: What about Bangalore's chances in the ongoing Indian T 20 league?
A: Well, we have a good start. Now at the number two. We all want to be the champions. Last year, we came close. But this year, we need to do it. At the moment, all our attention is on that. Once the tournament ends, I'll start thinking about the T20 world cup. In fact, it will be of great help for all of us to be playing T20 for almost two months before the World Cup.
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