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Playing together for India is our collective dream: Krunal Pandya

Having got a step closer with his maiden India A call-up, Pandya Sr. is open to all roles

When the India A team for the tour of South Africa was announced, it was way past midnight in Antigua, but there was one man not willing to hit the sack. He would have probably got a good night’s sleep after a phone call made back home in India. The Pandya brothers - Krunal and Hardik - talk daily, but this phone call was special. Though miles apart from each other, the two on Thursday were one step closer to realizing their dream of playing for India together.

For the first time, elder brother Krunal was named in the India A side. The all-rounder was included in the one-day side for the tour starting next month with Australia being the third team. “We speak daily, but today he stayed up to congratulate me. It is our collective to dream to play for India together. Getting selected for the India A team is great news and everyone in our family is delighted,” an elated Krunal told
BCCI.TV.

Krunal’s selection follows his impressive performance in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and IPL 10. He was Baroda’s top scorer with 366 runs that included three half centuries in the domestic 50-over tournament. In the concluded season of IPL, he scored 243 runs and picked 10 wickets and an economy rate of under seven. In the final, Krunal hit 47 from 38 balls and opened the bowling (4-0-31-0) for Mumbai Indians. He was declared Man of the Match in the thrilling one-run win in the final that helped MI secure their third IPL title.

Often troubled by injuries, Krunal has raced against time to be in race for India A spots. Before IPL 9, Krunal had missed the domestic season owing to a shoulder injury and in the last season he hurt his quadriceps while fielding.

He was sidelined for three months and it was at NCA that he got back on the path of recovery. “A lot of credit must go to our NCA trainer Rajnikant (Strength & Conditioning Coach). He really looked after me. There was a sling strapped to my leg and for three months I had to take the help of a walker to move around. Injuries are not easy to deal with. I had to be strong mentally and to tell you frankly, I am happy with the way I have returned after each setback.”

Former India wicket-keeper Kiran More first saw Krunal when he was seven. The former chief selector was happy to see his ward progress. “When the Pandya brothers had come to my academy they had a dream to play for India but did not even know how to hold a bat. Krunal has missed a lot of cricket owing to injuries, but credit to him for the way he has shown his character whenever he has got the opportunity. I always tell the boys that performance is in your hands and you must focus on that. Krunal has performed really well. He has a lot of potential and has worked doubly hard to be here post injuries,” said More.

In the IPL, Krunal proved his versatility as an all-rounder. His agility and sharp fielding make him a complete package. The 26-year-old said he was open to any role. “We must remember that cricket is a team sport. From the start of my career, I did not limit myself to a particular role. I believe in flexibility and always look forward to playing different roles for the team. I never hesitate. For MI, I have bowled in Powerplay and even in the slog overs. Even in the batting department, I have virtually batted at every position in the middle-order.

“I relish pressure situations. The satisfaction you get from helping your team out of trouble is unmatched.”

He added that once the team arrives in South Africa, he will look to perform from the word go. “It is a very important tour of me. I will get to learn a lot. The conditions are going to be different, but the goal is to hit the ground running and deliver in the same manner as I did in the IPL.”

He was a bit emotional as the talk veered on his early days. “We had moved to Baroda from Surat when we were still kids. My parents have sacrificed a lot. It is thanks to them that we have reached this stage. I also thank my coach Jitendra Singh. I am not going to be content playing a few matches for India A. My eventual goal is to play for India and that is the target.

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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Sachin's pep talk, IPL form does the trick for Basil Thampi

The Kerala based medium pacer speaks about his maiden India ‘A’ call-up, the confidence that IPL helped him gain and more…

“It is a dream come true for me and I am short of words to express how happy I have been since morning,” says the Kerala medium pacer who earned his maiden India ‘A’ call-up on Thursday morning.

Expressing himself further, Basil adds that, “My phone has been buzzing non-stop since morning with my family, friends and relatives calling in to congratulate me and send in their best wishes.”

The pacer who is going through his fitness tests and routines at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru currently, became a cynosure of all eyes during the tenth edition of IPL due to his ability to bowl fast yorkers.

Ask him if he was expecting the India ‘A’ call-up, the youngster iterates, “Actually not! To be very honest, I am somebody who sets short goals for myself and then I try and work towards it. For instance, when I started playing cricket, I had set a goal to play in the Ranji Trophy and then I worked towards achieving it. Similarly, I played for IPL and India ‘A’ was the next goal that I had set for myself.”
Basil who was up against world class batsmen in his first season at the IPL, credits the league for the confidence that it helped him gain.

“My biggest takeaway from IPL has been the confidence that I have gained. I bowled to some world class hitters of the game and looked to contain them. Also, I learnt a lot in terms of expressing myself - on and off the field, how to react under pressure situations and be a bit more aggressive on the ground,” adds the youngster who calls himself a ‘shy’ person and feels that he has only learnt to express himself better after being in the Gujarat Lions squad around the best management and team.

An enthused Basil who is training at the NCA also feels that it was that short conversation after the IPL final with the Master that has motivated him even further to perform and work towards his goal. “It was a moment for me to cherish as Sachin (Tendulkar) paaji called me and told me that he was following all my matches closely and how he thinks that I would play for the country one day. That conversation has had a lot of impact on me as each day I go into my training, more motivated and energised thinking that I need to live up to the Master’s expectations.”

Basil looks to carry his IPL momentum into the India ‘A’ team and wants to contribute by giving his 100 percent to the team. “I definitely look forward to take the IPL confidence into the India ‘A’ tour. IPL gave me the opportunity to perform against the biggest players of the sport and I would love to give in my 100 percent in the upcoming tour to South Africa.”

Rajlaxmi Arora
Rajlaxmi Arora

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