IPL debut and Ranji Champion: Kumar Kartikeya finally has a sense of achievement after years of hard toil

Madhya Pradesh spinner Kumar Kartikeya’s rise continued as the left arm spinner played a crucial part in Madhya Pradesh’s first ever Ranji Trophy winning campaign. Kartikeya, who shot to fame after his Indian Premier League debut with Mumbai Indians, spoke about his season and delved into the story of the people who helped him achieve this feat.

During his IPL days, Kartikeya had spoken about how he had not been home for over nine years, because he promised himself that he would not return without achieving something. The left armer, while speaking to cricket.com days after MP’s first Ranji winning campaign, said that he has a sense of achievement now, but that does not stop him from aiming higher in life.

“Yes, whatever I had expected, I’ve achieved somewhat. I’ve not yet reached where I ultimately want to, but I’ve come to a certain stand, where people recognise me now,” Kartikeya said.

He talked about learning in the unconventional way of looking at footage from different bowlers, something that developed his skillset.

“In the T20 game, if I bowl normal left-arm spin, there is a greater chance of being hit. But if I bowl deliveries that batsmen can’t read which way it’s turning, then it’s not so easy to hit. I’ve seen Sunil Narine, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Akila Dananjaya I developed this after seeing them,” the bowler explained.

“I learned the carrom ball from Mujeeb, the googly from Dananjaya and Rashid Khan. Watching Chahal bhai and Adam Zampa helped me pick up leg-spin, and the flipper was taught to me by Narendra Hirwani sir. He was around the MP team. I wasn’t able to bowl it, he spent only five minutes with me and gave me three-four options. One of them fit, and my googly began to spin. Earlier it didn’t spin. He’s a different level coach when it comes to bowling,” he further added.

He backed his understanding of cricket and said that he was worried about losing his stock delivery after trying many variations, however, his fear went away after working with coach Sanjay Bhardwaj.

“I have one thing, with regards to bowling my mind is sharp. I can pick some things up very quickly. I spoke to my coach, Sanjay Bharadwaj sir, also several times, because at the back of my mind I did have doubts that if I try these variations, it could spoil my left-arm spin. But my coach told me that ‘Left-arm spin is in your blood. You’ve been bowling it for ten years. If you bowl leg-spin for a couple of months, nothing will change. So if you think you can bowl it, do it,” he said.

“When he told me that, I felt more secure. Earlier when I used to practice this on the ground, several people told me not to do it, that my left-arm spin will get ruined. They said I’m established in the Ranji Trophy team, why did I want to try this?”

Kartikeya was a daily wage labourer before coming to Delhi and had struggled for pepper nutrition in his hard days. Kartikeya’s coach had revealed that the bowler had not eaten lunch for a year.

The spinner credit Bharadwaj a for his success and said that, never in his life he had met a person in Delhi who just wanted to give, without asking anything in return.

“From the time I’m playing cricket, whatever I am it’s because of him. He took care of my stay, my food, everything. I struggled a lot when I came to Delhi, but when I went to him, I only had to concentrate on playing cricket. He ended the rest of my struggles,” Kartikeya revealed.

“The first day I met him, he told me that whatever expenses I had, shoes, clothes, whatever is needed for your cricket, I will provide. I started weeping who does this in Delhi? He said, you just think that I’m like your father. I got very emotional then. Since I had come to Delhi, everyone just wanted to take from me. ‘Give me this much and I’ll do this for you’. He spoke only about giving. I felt so nice. Even now, where he stands for me, nobody else does. He is everything for me,” he concluded.

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