Read more below

  • Published 11.07.01
Calcutta, July 11 :    Calcutta, July 11:  Had John Wright, now in Canterbury, known that Amay Khurasia wasn't too far away (in Leeds) - and vice-versa - the national coach and our cricket's latest comeback man would probably have taken the same flight to India. More than anything else, that would have helped Khurasia and Wright have their first one-on-one. After all, the left-handed Khurasia's last India appearance was 22 months ago, in Singapore, when Aunshuman Gaekwad was coach. As it turns out, Khurasia will board a Singapore Airlines flight out of Manchester tomorrow and Wright will possibly return aboard a British Airways one, 24 hours later, from London. Both, of course, will be back well before the Sri Lanka-bound squad's Monday departure. [Incidentally physio Andrew Leipus is also currently overseas, in Johannesburg, and will return on Sunday.] The Wright-Khurasia one-on-one, then, will have to wait - the coach, though, won't be disappointed either with Khurasia's commitment or the passion which drives him. Ironically, two years ago (specifically after the World Cup), these very qualities came to be questioned in many quarters after a whisper-campaign by people inimical to the left-hander. Thanks largely to the unfounded campaign, Khurasia got the axe pretty soon thereafter. Today, he isn't sure why it all started. If anything, however, that episode has made him more determined than ever to carve a niche for himself. "Well, yes, even I had heard I wasn't interested in nets and so on... But, you were yourself in England during the World Cup - did you, ever, get the impression I was trying to shirk any responsibility at all? How come just one or two people imagined things and spread it to my disadvantage?" asked Khurasia, when The Telegraph contacted him on his cellphone in the UK. Khurasia, who is cutting short his contract with Broad Oak in the Huddersfield League, added: "I still can't understand why some people chose to question my commitment... I know I've always been honest with my cricket... Thankfully, I've got this opportunity to prove detractors wrong. This comeback, perhaps, is God's way of justice..." The youngest in a family of three brothers, the Indore-based Khurasia "fears" God and "believes" in destiny, but pointed out: "The individual, though, must himself do the hard work. It's important to remember that God works with you, not for you." It's an injury to Sachin Tendulkar (one of Khurasia's contemporary heroes, the other being Steve Waugh), and his non-availability for much of the forthcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka, which facilitated the left-hander's return, but captain Sourav Ganguly's strong backing has already reduced much of the pressure. In fact, that Khurasia be picked as Sachin's replacement was suggested by Sourav himself, during Monday afternoon's selection meeting in Mumbai. [Speaking exclusively, the captain today said: "I've played alongside him and know his potential. Amay is very positive and can go over-the-top... He has what it takes to open in ODIs." For the record, however, Khurasia has opened once in nine innings - versus Pakistan, in Sharjah.] "It's terrific to know the captain has so much confidence... Definitely makes my job easy... I'm grateful to the selectors, too, for giving me another chance to show I'm worthy of the India cap," Khurasia remarked, this time emotionally. "I was always looking to make a comeback... Was confident I would, only I didn't know when and under what circumstances... Perhaps, it was pre-ordained that my return would be now," he added. But would he be comfortable opening at the international level? Khurasia's response was prompt: "Absolutely. It's not that I've never done the job before. Moreover, the India cap itself removes whatever apprehensions may be there... Frankly, I just can't wait to again take guard in the India colours." Asked whether not getting a single game (India played eight matches) during the 1999 World Cup remains his biggest disappointment, Khurasia paused for a moment and replied: "Actually, much more disappointing was that we didn't get beyond the Super-Six stage... Looking back, yes, I would then have felt better had I got one game at least..." While the past can't ever be re-written, the course of both the present and the future can be strongly influenced by one's deeds. Khurasia, who grew up idolising Sir Gary Sobers and Sunil Gavaskar, knows that well enough. For now, Khurasia has been picked for the tri-series only, but a top-drawer effort during the July 18-August 4 tournament may ensure an extended stay in Sri Lanka, for the Test series as well. "I'll keep fingers crossed," Khurasia, who turned 29 in May, signed off.