‘Stopped calling as mother used to weep’: MI youngster recalls struggles - Hindustan Times

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  • The 24-year-old Indian finished the Ranji Trophy 2021-22 season as the second-highest wicket-taker, plucking 32 wickets in 11 innings including three five-wicket hauls.
Mumbai Indians in action against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022 game(IPLt20.com) Mumbai Indians in action against Rajasthan Royals in IPL 2022 game(IPLt20.com)

Madhya Pradesh humbled domestic powerhouse Mumbai by six wickets in the Ranji Trophy final after the Aditya Shrivastava-led side chased down a paltry 108-run target on the final day. With just over 100 to get, Madhya Pradesh – a team that didn't have many superstars compared to Mumbai – created history and captured their maiden title at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru. The win was the moment of a lifetime for many players including Kumar Kartikeya, who has enjoyed a stellar run since his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians.

Kartikeya tagged himself as a "mystery" bowler, hinting he wouldn't be pigeonholed as a one-trick pony when it comes to the art of spin bowling. He was roped in by the Mumbai Indians mid-way through the season as a replacement for Arshad Khan. He picked up five wickets in four games and played a crucial role in Madhya Pradesh's first-ever Ranji Trophy win. He finished the season as the second-highest wicket-taker, plucking 32 wickets in 11 innings including three five-wicket hauls.

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He may have checked a few boxes but Kartikeya believes his ultimate goal is still far away. “Yes, whatever I had expected, I’ve achieved somewhat. I’ve not yet reached where I ultimately want to, but I’ve come to a certain stand, where people recognise me now,” Kartikeya told cricket.com.

Kartikeya can bowl leg-breaks, wrong'uns, finger spin and even the carrom ball. He talked about honing his skills under childhood coach Sanjay Bharadwaj, who supported the player through thick and thin. The left-arm spin bowler revealed how Bharadwaj helped him get through the initial struggles.

“The first day I met him, he told me that whatever expenses I had, shoes, clothes, whatever is needed for your cricket, I will provide. I started weeping who does this in Delhi? He said, you just think that I’m like your father. I got very emotional then. Since I had come to Delhi, everyone just wanted to take from me. ‘Give me this much and I’ll do this for you’. He spoke only about giving. I felt so nice. Even now, where he stands for me, nobody else does. He is everything for me," he said.

Like most players who dream of making it big, Kartikeya had humble beginnings. He hasn't visited his home for nine years in his wandering for success.

"9 years and 2 months. I left home on April 1. My home is in Kanpur, but my father is in the police so he keeps getting transferred. He’s in Jhansi now. I have a younger brother, I’ve not met him also," revealed Kartikeya.

"I did have time to go home, but when I last spoke to papa, he had said that now that you’ve gone, achieve something and come back. I just said one word, ‘yes’. And because I had said ‘yes’, I wasn’t going home. I would go home only after achieving something."

Kartikeya also shared conversations with his mother after he got selected for the IPL and Ranji Trophy. "I had told everyone not to come. My mother used to say often to come, but I kept telling her to be patient, and I had to convince her not to come.

"I stopped video calling, because my mother used to weep! So I just called. When I called, she became emotional, so I used to make only voice calls. I did video call after winning the Ranji Trophy, and also when I got selected in the IPL. Before that, it was in 2018, when I first got selected for the Ranji," he added.

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