All-rounder Satyajeet Bachhav has almost become an irreplaceable part of the Maharashtra team in domestic cricket across all three formats. However, the 28-year-old has learned that nothing comes easy in life, and he has had to earn his stripes to be where he is today.
Satyajeet Bacchav started out as a fast bowler in his early days before he transitioned to left-arm spin. In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda, Satyajeet Bachhav talked about how he had to give up fast bowling to become a spinner. and much more.
"During the 2003 World Cup itself, I had decided (to start playing cricket), and my father enrolled me in a coaching camp in Nashik. I used to idolise Zaheer Khan and thus used to try to copy his bowling action. So in the coaching camp too, I used to bowl left-arm fast. But in one of the games, I wasn't bowling accurately enough. So in that tennis ball match, I bowled left-arm orthodox spin and performed really well. That prompted my coach to advise me to concentrate on becoming a spinner," Satyajeet Bachhav said.
Satyajeet Bachhav's failed 'bone test'
After spotting Satyajeet Bacchav's talent, the player's coach backed him to perform at the U-16 district level, where he ended up picking a staggering 53 wickets. However, destiny had other plans for him. Bachhav was allegedly claimed to be playing outside his age-group limit, and he failed to clear a 'bone test.'
The youngster was devastated as he thought he deserved a chance for the District Invitational Tournament based on his performances at the U-16 level. Nevertheless, he worked hard and staged a strong comeback in the next season.
Satyajit Bachhav picked up 48 wickets at the U-19 district level, the most by any spinner that season, to storm into the Maharashtra U-19 team. He also ended up picking 50 wickets in seven games in an ensuing Invitational Tournament.
The 28-year-old opened up about the emotions he experienced through all these ups and downs.
"At the U-16 level, I had failed a bone test despite taking 52-53 wickets. I was very emotional and talked with my family about the disappointment of missing out despite picking so many wickets. But our selector at that point had told me that if I take same number of wickets the following year at the U19 level, then I will be called up to the state team. So luckily I picked up 57 wickets the next year and was called up to the Maharashtra U19 squad. I was the highest wicket-taker in the 2014-15 season at the U-23 level, and I had also received the MA Chidambaram trophy from the BCCI," Satyajeet Bachhav stated.
Kedar Jadhav's impact on Satyajeet Bachhav
The left-arm spinner's impressive performances in age-group cricket were recognised, as he received his maiden Ranji Trophy call-up in 2012. Satyajit Bachhav was overwhelmed to share the dressing room with a stalwart like Kedar Jadhav.
The 35-year-old also happened to be the person who gave Bachhav his maiden first-class cap. In awe of Jadhav, Satyajeet Bachhav revealed how the veteran inspired him to perform well at the Ranji Trophy level.
"I had received my Ranji Trophy cap from Kedar Jadhav. It was a big moment for me to share the dressing room with stalwarts like him, Ankit Bawne, Samad Fallah, etc. I was a bit nervous about how I was going to perform at such a big level. But while giving me my cap, Kedar told me that I just need to keep performing as I have done at the U19 level. He also told me to continue playing 'dadagiri' (dominating) cricket as I had played at the age-group level."
"Kedar has unbelievable self-confidence and will power"- Satyajeet Bachhav
Speaking about his Maharashtra senior, Satyajeet Bachhav has backed Kedar Jadhav to do well in the near future.
Despite enduring an underwhelming IPL 2020 campaign for CSK, the 35-year-old was on fire for Maharashtra in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
The 28-year-old revealed that Kedar Jadhav still has immense faith in himself and harbours hopes of an India comeback. He said in this regard:
"We were together for the past two months. I never felt that he was depressed or under any kind of pressure. In every athlete's life, there are ups and downs no matter, how big a cricketer you are. Although he had a poor IPL 2020 season, he was motivated and pushed himself to do well. He has such unbelievable self confidence and will power that he still believes he can make a comeback into the Indian team. So confidence is the key."
Satyajeet Bachhav on his stint in England
Satyajeet Bachhav is not only a hard-working cricketer, he has also smartly found ways to improve his game.
He had a brief stint in England during the 2019 off-season. The then 27-year-old turned up for the Wakefield Thornes CC in the South Yorkshire Premier League.
Bachhav had a sensational campaign with the ball, picking up 65 wickets from 23 games in the league. However, he feels it was his batting that immensely improved during that period. He amassed 333 runs while batting at no. 4 in testing conditions.
His exploits in England had a positive impact in his Ranji Trophy performances, as he scored 317 runs, with three fifties, and also scalped 37 wickets.
Satyajeet Bachhav shed light on how his stint in England helped him develop his game as an all-rounder.
"In 2019, I went to the UK as I wanted to take an experience of playing in the Premier Division. There were a number of pros who played that season,and thus the league was decent in terms of competitiveness. I also had the time to work on my batting since I was sent at the no. 4 position. That really helped me perform for Maharashtra as an all-rounder. I was sent as a night watchman in the Ranji Trophy at no. 3, and I did really well."
Satyajeet Bachhav's take on his IPL dreams and playing under MS Dhoni
That same year, Satyajeet Bachhav also had a strong impact in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for Maharashtra.
He ended up as the leading wicket-taker with 20 wickets in 12 games. However, he was unlucky to miss out on an IPL contract. The 28-year-old explained what he feels about his chances of playing in the IPL, saying in this regard:
"Actually it (an IPL contract) was not in my destiny that year. Although we had qualified in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and all our matches were live, the tournament happened just after the 2019 IPL auction. Before IPL 2020, I was called for trials by the Rajasthan Royals and the Mumbai Indians. I did think I would get a call-u,p as the trails went well, but maybe they might have found someone else who had better skills than me. Nevertheless, I am working hard, and I am sure I will get an IPL contract next year, hopefully."
After hearing about the experience of playing under the former Indian captain from his Maharashtra teammate Jadhav, Bachhav expressed his desire to bowl under the leadership of the Indian legend.
"I would love to play under MS Dhoni. Since my childhood, I have seen him be so calm and composed. As a captain, he helps the bowlers from behind the stumps, which makes our job easier. Kedar Jadhav had once told me that he hasn't seen a captain like MS Dhoni who backs his players to such an extent. He also shared an anecdote with me about how Dhoni helped him. He told Kedar to bowl with his unique round-arm action against New Zealand's Kane Williamson, as the pitch had less bounce. Kedar did tha,t and he immediately got a wicket, which was sensational."
Satyajeet Bachhav's opinion on players' financial security
The 2021-22 Ranji Trophy season has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the huge financial loss for players like Bachhav, who want to make their mark in red-ball cricket, the 28-year-old highlighted the need for financial security.
He believes if the players are tied down to a contractual system, it would help them be financially secure and not worry about match fees during the pandemic. In this regard, Satyajeet Bachhav observed:
"I still believe IPL is just a bonus for the hard work and progress a player makes in red-ball cricket. You get rewarded on your past performances in domestic cricket through the IPL. If we have a contract system in place, it will be better because then we players would get financial security."
Satyajeet Bachhav's India dream
Satyajeet Bachhav, who is now 28, still has a lot of time in his hands to realise his dream of playing for the Men in Blue.
He believes it is a matter of just one sensational season, which will help him gain the limelight. With left-arm spinners liker Axar Patel suddenly bursting onto the international scene through some good performances, Satyajeet Bachhav spoke about his chances of donning the blue jersey one day.
"Nowadays, one good season can bring any player into the limelight. So even I feel that if I have one excellent season, I could possible get an India A call-up. I do have both confidence and hope that I might play for India someday, because I have been performing well for so many years. So I do feel it is just a matter of one season for a turnaround to happen," Satyajeet Bachhav concluded.