Canada's recent star and T20 specialist Nikhil Dutt hogged the limelight recently when he became the first Canadian player to be picked in the Global T20 Canada League. The 23-year-old mystery spinner is regarded as a bright prospect for Canadian Cricket. He is the only cricketer from Canada to feature in the Carribean Premier League (CPL).
Nikhil has his roots in Kolkata albeit he was born in Kuwait, his family is from Kolkata. He stayed in Kolkata during his childhood. Later, Nikhil moved with his father Mihir Dutta to Toronto, where he began playing cricket in the Ontario Cricket Academy. Nikhil was first coached by Derek Perera.
"I immigrated to Canada when I was 5 years old with my family. My dad introduced me to cricket at a young age and I developed an interest in it. We went to watch a couple of cricket games in Toronto and that’s how I enrolled in a cricket academy here," Nikhil said during an exclusive tête-à-tête with us.
Nikhil was a part of Toronto Nationals in the GT20 Canada League 2018. He got a chance to play with the likes of Steven Smith, Darren Sammy and Kieron Pollard. Despite Toronto Nationals' failure, Nikhil had a reasonable tournament. In the first game, he returned with the figures of 2 for 26.
While speaking about his learnings from the tournament he said "I received an immense amount of exposure being able to play side by side with some of the greatest cricket players. I was able to learn from them during practice sessions and games which I found valuable." He will look to utilize these skills and learnings as his cricket career progresses.
While growing up in Canada the weather bothered Nikhil as it had an effect on the practice sessions. "It was difficult due to our weather and seasons to play games all year around and get the same exposure and practice as test playing nations but despite this, I always knew I wanted to play cricket because I enjoy the game very much," he remarked.
Cricketers from associate countries have to manage their job and cricket simultaneously. This becomes a serious task for them and most cricketers have to sacrifice on either their job or cricket. In their limited time for practice, the cricketers have to manage their on-field skills and their fitness.
"It is important to maintain a balance between cricket and work and I look forward to practice sessions after work as it is relaxing and it helps me to prepare for the upcoming games and tournaments. I always make time for fitness because it is the foundation for my game. I incorporate it into my daily practice routine," said Dutta.
When asked about his CPL and BPL experience, he said: "When I played in CPL and BPL, I just focused on the basics and tried to learn as much as I can, from the experienced players in the league." When asked about his idol while growing up, Nikhil said without hesitation, "My dad/coach."
The 23-year-old admires the Carribean all-rounder Sunil Narine: "My favourite player is Sunil Narine, and I would like to adopt his calm and composed attitude. I would love to share the dressing room with him." Even when we asked about his favourite IPL team, he mentioned the Kolkata Knight Riders.
He has his eyes set on the World Cup as Dutta talked about his future goals. "My goals are to better my cricket and to help my country for the World Cup. Also, I want to continue playing in the big premier leagues such as the GT20, CPL and BPL," said Nikhil.