I am blessed to get an opportunity to play under Rahul Dravid, says Rajneesh Gurbani after India A call
Hard work integrated with dreams in the mind and dedication in the process ultimately paves its way to success. The 25-year-old engineer turned pacer from Vidarbha, Rajneesh Gurbani's story is a perfect exemplar of the same.
Maiden Ranji Trophy title, a historic hat-trick in the grand finale, match-winning 12 wickets in the semi-final, a total of 39 scalps in the season, and an impressive outing in the Irani Cup, Gurbani did all that was needed to grab the eyeballs of the national selectors. And eventually, he has been rewarded for his exceptional performance with a spot in India A squad for the four-day games in England.
"I was expecting an India A call to some extent and now that I have been selected I am extremely happy. I am thankful to the selectors for showing faith in me and hopefully, I will be able to prove myself," the 25-year-old told Sportskeeda in an exclusive interview.
The young gun from Vidarbha is extremely excited to meet the former India captain, Rahul Dravid who will coach the A side.
"I feel blessed that I will be playing under the guidance of Rahul Dravid sir because very few people get that opportunity. I have heard a lot about him and I am looking forward to meeting him," said the youngster.
The desire to learn and improve is what differentiates the best from the rest and Gurbani flaunts that attitude with flair.
"When Chandrakant Pandit sir came as a coach of Vidarbha last year, my main aim was to grasp as much as possible from him. And now that I have got an opportunity to play under Rahul sir, I will try and learn as much as possible from him," the pacer added.
Over the last few months or so, Rajneesh Gurbani, has not only become a household name in his hometown Nagpur but also created a buzz in the country's cricketing circuit. With this has followed media attention and the celebrity status. However, amidst the glitz and glamour, Gurbani remains grounded and believes that staying focused is of utmost importance.
"Whatever I have achieved till now it has been because of God's grace and I am extremely thankful to him. Now my main focus will be to play well for India A. I am going match by match. This is a huge moment for me and I am looking forward to giving my best. All other things will fall into place eventually but my main focus is to perform well for my side and not think about anything else," he said.
Though the city of Oranges, Nagpur, produced India's first Test captain, CK Nayudu, over the last few years it has failed to produce a significant number of international cricketers. In fact, in recent times Umesh Yadav is the only name which comes to our mind when we talk about Vidarbha cricket. However, Gurbani feels that the time of reckoning has come and soon many Vidarbha cricketers will make it to the big stage.
"I think there is time for everything and now that we have won the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup, I am sure that many Vidarbha players will come into notice. I think this phase will help us to create an atmosphere as a result of which many youngsters will get motivated to do well. So hopefully in near future, we will see more international players from Vidarbha."
After creating waves in the domestic circle, Gurbani was expected to be on the radar of many IPL franchises and he was also called by many teams for the trials. However, destiny had some other plans in store for the 25-year-old as he went unsold in the auctions.
Initially, this was definitely a bitter pill to swallow for the youngster, "Obviously I was a bit disappointed. In fact, it was my birthday on the day of auctions. So it took me around a day or so to come out of the disappointment."
However, it is the manner in which we rise after we fall that defines an individual. Soon the youngster decided to push aside this setback and geared up for the next challenge: "My family encouraged me by saying that maybe, something better was written for me and that's why IPL did not happen. So I trusted God and took the things positively. After rejuvenating myself by taking rest for 2-3 days, I returned back to the field and started practising once again."
When asked about his views on IPL becoming a benchmark for national selection over the last few years, the pacer said that the performance of both domestic cricket as well as IPL should be taken into consideration. "I think both are equally important. Of course, the major difference between IPL and domestic cricket is the fact that when you do well in such kind of leagues you get noticed quickly as compared to domestic cricket."
Gurbani's strength as a bowler lies in the fashion in which he lands the bowl on the seam and swings it in both the directions. But, one crucial area where he will have to improve in the longer context is his bowling speed. "I think improving speed depends a lot on the technical aspects and fitness. I have been working on it over the last one month or so and hopefully, it will reflect in my performance for India A."
Apart from working on the technical aspects, the youngster is also leaving no stone unturned to remain fit by giving special attention to his diet. "I am working on my fitness daily as advised by the VCA trainer. As far as my diet is concerned I am making sure that I eat at proper timings rather than focusing on eating any specific things."
With the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami and others, India currently possesses one of the strongest bowling lineups in world cricket and to make a cut among them will definitely be a tough task. However, the pacer from Vidarbha isn't worried about the competition and instead wants to learn from his seniors.
"Whenever I watch them on television, I closely observe how they are bowling in different situations. I feel very happy when they perform well and obviously, I have learned a lot from them. I am not thinking about how I will get into the side but rather I am focussing on improving my bowling with every passing day."
Like every other player sweating it out in the domestic circuit, Rajneesh also harbours the dream of donning the national jersey but currently wants to take it game by game and focus on performing well for India A.
"Obviously, my ultimate dream is to play for India but right now I am not looking far too ahead. I have always believed that, Aage ka mat dekho, bas socho ke ek torch hai tumhare pass jitna dikh raha hai bas utna chalte jao (Don't think too much, just imagine that you have a torch in your hand and you have to walk along the direction in which it takes you). So right now my only focus is to perform for India A."
Altogether, taking into consideration his top-notch show in the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup, Gurbani is quite likely to be a part of India A's playing XI in the UK.