Kumar Kartikeya, cricket’s proverbial journeyman, propels MP to semifinals

Left spinner Kumar Kartikeya expelled his demons – the ones life created for him – by taking a six-wicket run to help Madhya Pradesh score a sure win by 10 wickets against Punjab on day four of the Ranji Trophy quarter-final match.

Kartickeya (6 vs 50) had a huge say in Punjab’s second innings, striking six wickets for 50 times. On the third day, the 24-year-old was in charge of the vital wickets of Punjab Leader Abhishek Sharma (17), Chopman Gill (19), Mandeep Singh (17), Gurkirat Singh Man (10), Anmol Malhotra (34) and Sanveer Singh (0) to demolish Punjab lineup hit single-handedly in their second article.

The bowling that Kartikeya played throughout the match was commendable. He turned and bounced off a docile court and showed tactile control as the ball flew. At times, a string seemed to be attached to the ball when Kartikeya smashed it as the batsmen were drawn to play a powerful blow.

Punjab was thrown in the second round for 203. With 26 hits needed to win, Himanshu Mantri (9 not out) and Yash Dhoby (17 not out) made sure MP made it home in style.

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Kartickeya made his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians and surprised everyone with his versatility. He threw the left wrist, the foul, the finger spin and even the kerome ball. Kartikeya coach Sanjay Bharadwaj, who has coached the likes of Gautam Gambir, Amit Mishra, Joginder Sharma and Unmukt Chand, describes him as a cricketer of this new age.

“Cricket has changed a lot. Now if you don’t improvise, you won’t survive. He was rotating his fingers naturally but before going to trials for different IPL teams, he learned the art of wrist rotation, and continued to perfect it in five to six months,” Bharadwaj told the Indian newspaper Express.

Teen Struggles

Paradwaj still remembers when 15-year-old Kartikeya came to his academy in Delhi, accompanied by one of his students, Radziham.

“I never knew his family background. He was playing in Kanpur and he wasn’t playing. People were asking for money to let him play cricket. Radishyam, sir, told me he couldn’t pay your fee. I specifically told him not to worry about it and just walk around. He threw a ball Or two, and I was amazed. At that age, the amount of drift it was generating was amazing; the action was so smooth,” Bharadwaj recalls.

With an interest in training, Kartickeya now had to find a job to stay afloat in the national capital. So he got a job as a factory worker in the nearby village of Masori, Ghaziabad. He would take the night shift, and in the morning, he would rush to the academy which was about 80 kilometers from the factory. His meal will be one box of biscuits. Sometimes, even training on an empty stomach.

A year later, Pradwag was introduced to Kartikeya’s struggle and was offered accommodation at the academy.

“Mujhe koi idea nahi tha ki wo labor ka kaam kar raha aur itni duur se aata hai. Casey Academy ke bacche ne hi bataya mujhe. (I had no evidence that he was working as a labourer, someone from the academy told me about his struggles), Bharadwaj said.

Bhradwaj vividly remembers Kretekia’s first day at the academy.

“When the cook gave him food, he started crying. He told me ‘Sir Ek Sal Si lunch nahi kia hai’ (Sir I haven’t had lunch for a year),’ said Bharadwaj.

Kartikeya expelled his demons – the ones life created for him – by making a six-wicket run to help Madhya Pradesh score a sure win by 10 wickets against Punjab. (Express Photo)

The following year, Kartickeya became the best shareholder in the prestigious Omnath Sood Championship in Delhi. But it was ignored by the DDCA.

“He was not chosen for trials,” Bharadwaj said.

Paradwaj was calling his good friend Ajay Dwivedi, Chairman of Shahdol Cricket Association of Madhya Pradesh.

In early 2018, I sent it to Shahdol. Paradwaj said he made his U-23 debut in Madhya Pradesh, and by the end of the year, he made his debut in the Ranji Cup with Madhya Pradesh.”

Delhi’s loss undoubtedly turned into a gain for Madhya Pradesh. Since then, he has become an important player for Madhya Pradesh and his coach feels he will be playing a lot of matches for his IPL franchise as well.

Bharadwaj said, “Aap dekhna next season of IPL Saare games khelega Mumbai Indians ke liye (He will play most matches for Mumbai Indians in IPL season), Bharadwaj said.

When asked about the secret of Kartikeya’s success, the coach replied, “Let me tell you the story of how he learned how to rotate his wrist. I live in the outskirts of Bhopal, and as soon as his camp in Indore was over, he came to my academy.” Mr. Naya Koch Karna Hoga Bowling Mai said (Sir, I should bring some Variety in my bowling.

At 12 at night he knocked on my door and said, ‘Neend nahi aa rahi lights on kar ke wrist spin ki karta hun’ (I’m not able to sleep. I’ll turn on the lights and try wrist bowling spin). So from that day on, he’d been bowling all over the wrist every night for at least two hours, and that’s how he perfected it,”

Brief scores:

Punjab: 219 and 203 (Anmol Malhotra 34, Anmolpreet Singh 31; Kumar Kartikeya 6/50, Saransh Jain 4/100) vs Madhya Pradesh 397 & 26 vs 0

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