IPL 2020: “I can’t explain what has been Suresh Raina’s contribution in my career,” one could gauge the emotion in Kartik Tyagi’s voice as he spoke about his first senior team captain.
For Akash Singh, this is a God sent opportunity where he can spend time with his favourite “JD Bhaiyya” off the field on how to keep the head above water in a glitzy environment.
Yashasvi Jaiswal, their former India U-19 teammate, is already being talked up as the next big thing after becoming the youngest double centurion in List A cricket for the formidable Mumbai.
Meet Rajasthan Royals’ fresh batch of U-19s, starry eyed, dreams to accomplish and waiting for their “Rockstar Ravindra Jadeja” moment like it happened 12 years ago with India’s first choice all-rounder across formats.
All three were integral part of India U-19 team that lost the 2020 World Cup final to Bangladesh but for the troika, their journey began even before that when Royals picked them from the IPL auction.
Talk to Tyagi, he recalls how Raina felt that the raw 17 year-old was good enough to play Ranji Trophy and the UP skipper had support from team’s senior bowler Praveen Kumar.
“Raina bhaiyya ka jo yogdaan raha hain, hum kabhi bhula nahi payenge. I had played U-16s when I was told to join Ranji Trophy camp. Raina bhaiyya saw me a few days and asked selectors to put me in Ranji Trophy team,” the right-arm pacer Tyagi, who made a name for himself with crushing yorkers at the U-19 World Cup, said.
“I must also mention how PK bhai (Praveen’s nickname) also supported me. During that match against Railways, Raina bhaiyya stood at mid-off and PK bhai at mid-on just to guide me and ensure I don’t suffer from nerves,” said Tyagi, who had decent figures of 1 for 25 from 15 overs.
For Akash, who is a left-arm seamer, a chance to be Jaydev Unadkat’s understudy is the best perk of this Royals deal.
He knows that Unadkat will be the first choice but he wants to be that sponge that soaks in any information that will be passed on by the Saurashtra left-armer, known for getting bank breaking deals at the IPL auction.
“I am lucky that I have JD bhai in my team. I would take this in a positive manner (that he may not be first choice). Also from a senior cricketer, you learn about off the field stuff of how to carry yourself and this is our time to learn,” Singh said.
The most eloquent of the three, Yashasvi, a product of Bombay school of batsmanship as well as grooming, spoke about the process.
“I did my fitness drills, maintained my diet and everything that our coaching staff at Royals told me. I did a lot of meditation during lockdown.
“The focus will always be on the process and if your process is correct, no one can stop you from giving 100 percent on the field,” said Yashaasvi, the highest scorer of U-19 World Cup, who enjoys a staggering list A average of 70 plus after 13 games.
Both Tyagi and Yashasvi have their questionnaire ready and when Steve Smith and Jofra Archer land in Dubai, they can be all but certain that their brains will be picked.
“We are all going through an entire gamut of emotions. I only saw these players on TV and now I will play alongside them. It’s indeed a great feeling,” the excitement in his voice was palpable.
“Jofra Archer is the best in the world but it’s not one thing I want to learn from Jofra. There are many things to learn from him and I would like to pick his brains on all aspects of fast bowling,” Tyagi said.
For Yashasvi, it is very difficult to ape Smith’s technique but obviously how the former Australian skipper constructs an innings under pressure could be an education for the left-handed opener.
“He has very different technique and it is his individual one. I would like to lean a lot about mindset as to how he plans an innings in difficult circumstances, how he thinks about his game,” Yashasvi said.
Talk about pressure, Akash said that “Rahul Dravid sir’s tips” received during U-19 days is like gospel for him.
“Rahul sir would always emphasise on how I can improve and speaks about how to keep a positive mindset. He focuses a lot on mental make-up and I can feel that in last six months, I have become mentally stronger.
“So whenever I feel I am under pressure, I go back to what Rahul sir tells me,” Akash added.