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Bengal pacer makes a mark

In his maiden series for India A, Mukesh Kumar fared well to finish as the joint highest wicket-taker (nine scalps) along with left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar
Mukesh Kumar.
Mukesh Kumar.
Telegraph picture

Sayak Banerjee   |   Calcutta   |   Published 29.09.22, 02:52 AM

Three four-day games for India A against New Zealand A in Bangalore and Hubballi, followed by some warm-up T20s on Bengal’s preparatory tour of Visakhapatnam and then off to Rajkot for the Irani Cup clash versus Saurashtra beginning on Saturday. 

It has been a packed schedule over the last few weeks for Mukesh Kumar, but he’s enjoying every moment of it. 

In his maiden series for India A, the Bengal pacer fared well to finish as the joint highest wicket-taker (nine scalps) along with left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar. This when the surface at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore was anything but pacer-friendly. 

Not just in terms of numbers or performance, Mukesh is also counting on the overall experience he has gained playing in those four-day games. Particularly, the tips and advice he got from National Cricket Academy head VVS Laxman and chief selector Chetan Sharma. 

“VVS Sir told me to just focus on and keep doing the stuff I do when playing for Bengal. ‘Don’t try to do anything else, just concentrate on your basics and what has helped you gain success so far.’ That’s what he had asked me to do,” Mukesh said on Wednesday before boarding the flight to Rajkot. The tip from the chief selector, though, seems to have fired him up.

 “Towards the end of the first innings of the opening game, I wasn’t quite getting my rhythm right. “So Chetan Sir told me to be a little more careful about this aspect, adding that not many batsmen would find it easy to negotiate my bowling if I can maintain my rhythm. Those words were truly inspiring,” the 28-year-old, from Kankar Kund village in Gopalganj district of Bihar, stressed.

Mukesh acknowledged gaining more experience from those India A matches in which he had to bowl on pitches that were on the flatter side.“I concentrated on bowling as much as possible the delivery that jags back into the batsman. That helped,” he said, adding: “But had the second game (in Hubballi) not been hit by rain, I’m sure I would have finished as the highest wicket-taker in the series...Wouldn’t have to be the joint highest wicket-taker.”

With an eye on the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy as well, which starts on October 11, Mukesh is also working on variations like the slower delivery and wide yorker. “I’ve also carried a white ball along with and I’ll practise with that even at the Rest of India sessions,” he said. 

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