The life of Saurabh Kumar, veteran of a decade in domestic cricket, took a sharp turn on Monday when he made the Indian squad for the second Test against England starting in Visakhapatnam on February 2. The 30-year-old left-arm spinner can now nourish the hope of donning a national cap after being a journeyman with the Indian squad during the series against Sri Lanka at home in 2022. Of course, there is no guarantee that the Uttar Pradesh spinner will make his debut in Visakhapatnam ahead of Kuldeep Yadav or Washington Sundar.
But at least he has another chance to rub shoulders with lofty names of Indian cricket such as Rohit Sharma or Ravichandran Ashwin, an opportunity craved by several of his ilk.
“It has always been a dream to be a part of the Indian team. I mean which cricketer wouldn’t want that? Lot of things need to come together for it, but I have had a bit of experience,” says Kumar.
The “experience” that Kumar mentioned was the opportunity to be a bowler at India nets during England’s tour in 2021, the starting point of his upward journey.
“Not everyday you will get a chance to bowl to a Virat Kohli or Rohit Sharma, especially if you are a domestic player. They hardly play in Ranji Trophy or other domestic matches because of national commitments. “So, it was a chance for me to have a closer look at them and study how they approach their game and their other routines. It was a great experience to bowl to and interact with some top-level players. There was so much to learn from them,” he elaborates.
Getting drafted in as a net bowler could be taken as a recognition of his consistency in domestic cricket, but even then, Kumar had to rise above a tall blockade.
In India, a first-class cricketer’s career will generally hit the winter if he has not broken into the elite club of top players by Kumar’s age.
But as someone whose life has been all about learning and hard work since 2014, Kumar was not ready to give up.
“Bishan sir (late Bishan Singh Bedi) used to tell me to keep working hard and be mentally ready to give my best whenever the opportunity comes. I never really keep myself away from nets or bowling,” Kumar said. He used to attend Bedi’s summer camps in Delhi to finetune his skills under the observation of the master.
“Saurabh (Kumar) is a fantastic cricketer, a good reader of the game and situation. He knows how to adjust his line and length. He has got lot of experience in bowling in these conditions and against some really good players in domestic cricket like (Chestehwar) Pujara or Mayank (Agarwal), who score heavy runs,” Sunil Joshi, former India left-arm pacer and the current UP coach, told PTI.
Kumar has also been a regular face in India ‘A’ tours. He played against South Africa ‘A’ at Potchefstroom in December and grabbed four wickets in the match.
He bettered that effort against England Lions recently in Ahmedabad during the second unofficial Test.
In that match, Kumar took six wickets and scored 77 as India ‘A’ beat the tourists by an innings and 16 runs.
Joshi underlined his ward’s growing prowess to contribute in all parts of the game.
“Yes, now, he has improved his batting also and can contribute some handy runs down the order, He is a real asset to any team,” said Joshi.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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