Disciplined. Determined. Among many, these two adjectives immediately strike when you look at Vinay Kumar. And when you turn your look into observation, watch him bowl, follow his drills, it becomes even more justifiable.
“My main aim is to win Ranji Trophy for Karnataka,” Vinay Kumar had told Wah Cricket not once but thrice, in last week of November when he was in New Delhi to play Karnataka’s last group league match against Railways. Three weeks later, he swung his side one-step closer to the trophy with controlled seam movement both in the air and off the pitch against a formidable Mumbai batting line-up in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal on Thursday.
Seven-eight steps, then a nice leap culminating into a smooth high arm release– Kumar had specially modified his run-up five seasons back. That same style yielded maximum results for the Karnataka captain as he became the tenth bowler to claim a Ranji Trophy hat-trick for his state, that too in his 100th appearance.
“I had changed my run-up five years ago… That has enhanced my strengths of hitting the good areas. When I started playing cricket Anil Kumble told me that if you bowl wicket-to-wicket, there is a better chance of getting the batsman bowled or LBW.”
On Thursday though, only one of Kumar’s six victims fell into the bowled/LBW category. It was his hat-trick ball that came back in sharply after pitching on off stump to trap Akash Parker right in front. Other than that, he relied more on the away going delivery.
Kumar’s 6 for 34 on helpful conditions in Nagpur crippled Mumbai but if you ask him, he finds bowling on flat pitches more challenging.
“In Ranji Trophy, most of the time we get flat pitches. So there is no option but to bowl as close to the batsman as possible, that’s where your real test comes.”
The quarterfinal performance is obviously not a flash in the pan, he had sneered a six-for right at start of the season against Maharashtra and he has been consistent throughout. He even emerged as the highest wicket-taker last season, yet his name never came up for discussion in the selection meeting.
“See, now I have realized I just need to play cricket. It’s not always about performance; it’s about how you conduct yourself, how you keep yourself fit.”
After a pause he continues, “I am very happy with my own performance. Obviously the ultimate dream is to make a comeback for India. I have been getting wickets… scoring runs. Got the best all-rounder award this year but haven’t really got my dues.”
Kumar’s last appearance for India was an ODI against Australia in November 2013. He led Karnataka to successive Ranji Trophy titles right after that. But the call-up remained elusive.
However, the determined and disciplined Vinay Kumar lived to fight another day. And will continue to fight for his India spot and work towards winning Ranji Trophy for the third time.