Once upon a time, most of Indian cricket’s big stars used to come from the big cities. The remaking of India has changed that for good – think MS Dhoni, think Jasprit Bumrah, think Mohammad Shami. The rise of fast bowler Avesh Khan, a fast bowler from Indore newly selected to the Indian cricket team, is yet another story about how India’s smaller cities and tier 3, tier 4 towns is where the remaking of India is at its most potent. Sandip from the Indian Express has produced a wonderful piece which captures the joy of this young tearaway has he bursts into the big league of Indian cricket: “He reminisced the sacrifices his father made— some time ago, the local authorities ran down his father’s roadside paan shop and rendered him jobless — and the pillar of strength his mother had been through his coming-of-age years. The blessing of his uncles and aunts; the prayers of his grandmother; the support of his friends and the mentoring of his coaches, especially Amay Khurasiya, who spotted him, and fine-tuned him in his academy.”
In the new India, our small town heroes play shoulder to shoulder with the global legends of the game without being daunted by reputations – there is no deferential treatment for global stars here. Instead, the world is encountered and dealt with on equal terms: “…he was nervous at the start of the last IPL season. “I had hardly played in the last few years, maybe one or two games a season. I had my share of injuries in the past, and so I was a bit nervous before the first game,” he admits.
All he needed was a spur-on. Coach Ricky Ponting provided that. “Both (Kagiso) Rabada and (Anrich) Nortje were injured and I knew I would get a game. I knew I would play, but was a bit tense. Then Ponting pumped me up by telling me, ‘your time has come young man and just show the world how good you are. You have the talent, we know. Now show it to the world too.’ Those words really kicked me on. I suddenly felt I am strong and confident,” he remembers the season-defining conversation with Ponting.”…
He consistently clocked 145kph, the fastest was measured at 149, matching his colleagues Rabada and Nortje for pace. “There is a healthy competition among us. We are good friends and congratulate each other’s success, but in the middle, we are trying to be the best. They treat me as an equal,” he says.
Their discussions are usually match-specific; not many tips or advice has flown around. “We have a lot of discussions before the match, like about the pitch, the conditions and the batsmen. We also talk a lot in the middle, like how the pitch is behaving and what lengths need to be bowled. We help each other a lot that way,” he says.
But Avesh keeps close to his heart a piece of advice from Rabada. “Kaafi simple advice hai, lekin meri bowling me bohot farak pada tha (It was pretty simple advice, but it improved my bowling a lot). So he used to tell me to bowl the ball I feel like bowling in a particular situation and not to think too much about whether I should bowl that or whether I should do this. Bowl the ball that I am most confident of. The ball you are most confident of bowling is often your best ball. It was a very handy piece of advice,” he says.
Besides, he learns a lot just by observing them, like how they plot a dismissal, their field settings and their lengths. He makes mental notes.”
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