Kamlesh Nagarkoti, unlike many young budding cricketers, always wanted to become a fast bowler. Apart from just wanting to bowl fast, the youngster had the ability of bowling at a rapid pace ever since his childhood days.
Having made enormous progress from age-group cricket so far, Kamlesh Nagarkoti is seen as one of the bright stars of the future. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, the 21-year-old spoke about his early cricketing days, the role of Rahul Dravid in his career, his IPL stint with KKR so far and much more.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti's early cricketing days
Bowling fast was something that came naturally to a young Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The pacer explained how his ability to bowl quickly made him a fearsome bowler among his childhood friends while playing the game.
"From my early days itself, when I used to bowl with the tennis ball, I used to bowl really fast. Everyone wanted me on their team and batsmen used to find it difficult to negotiate my pace. Gradually, I started bowling with the leather ball too," Kamlesh Nagarkoti said.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti's childhood coach also had a huge role to play in his development. He was always told the importance of being consistent in the areas that he was hitting as a pacer rather than just bowling at high speeds. He added:
"Everyone has a dream to play for the country. So when I had played U14, U16, and the U19 World Cup for India, my aim was to perform wherever I would get the opportunity. I was ready to adapt and build my game according to the changing demands of the game. My coach always told me that more than pace, line and length is more important and I always focus on that."
The triumphant 2018 U19 World Cup
One of the high points in Kamlesh Nagarkoti's short career so far was the 2018 U19 World Cup win. Under the captaincy of Prithvi Shaw, India dominated the tournament and won it convincingly. Although there were stars like Shubman Gill in the mix, it was the pacers that did the damage for the boys in blue.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti, along with fellow pacers Shivam Mavi and Ishan Porel, hunted in packs and tormented most of the opposition batsmen. Looking back at that victorious campaign, the 21-year-old opened up on the pace-bowling trio's success.
"We were playing cricket together since the past 2-3 years. So we got experience from those games and we also had Dravid sir who used to guide us. So learning from that, we used to try and improve our game. Me and Mavi used to plan as to how to get a particular batsman out, how to back each other, and how to help each other if one of us wasn't bowling consistently well," Kamlesh Nagarkoti stated.
Rahul Dravid's impact on Kamlesh Nagarkoti
As the head at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and the coach of the Indian U19 and the A team, Rahul Dravid has done a tremendous job in shaping up the future of Indian cricket. Kamlesh Nagarkoti was one of his disciples and prospered under Dravid's mentorship.
Nagarkoti's start to his competitive cricketing career post the U19 World Cup was horrible as constant injury woes kept him out of action for a long time. But the youngster revealed how Dravid's words of wisdom helped him stay motivated and patient enough to wait for the right time. He recalled:
"When I was injured after the IPL, I was really disappointed. But my other coaches and Dravid sir always tried to motivate me. In NCA, whenever I used to meet Dravid sir, he used to make me understand that such situations occur in the lives of many athletes. But it's important how you motivate yourself and come out of the phase stronger. His words really fired me up and helped me improve as a bowler."
Kamlesh Nagarkoti's time at KKR
After an impressive U19 World Cup, Kamlesh Nagarkoti was snapped up by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and was set to make a mark as the next big thing in Indian cricket. However, injury issues kept him out for two full IPL seasons and he couldn't showcase his ability.
It would have been natural for any franchise to let him go, but KKR chose otherwise. They invested in the youngster, took great care during his rehabilitation and believed that he would come good when he is fully fit. Kamlesh Nagarkoti is grateful to KKR for the trust they have shown in him.
"I have always heard a lot about how good KKR are as a franchise and how they back their players and nurture them. They are like your family and are always ready to help those in need. Although I was injured for two years, they had the faith in me that whenever I would get an opportunity, I would do well," Kamlesh Nagarkoti said.
Across the last two seasons, Kamlesh Nagarkoti has played just 11 games in which he has picked five wickets. Having started just one game in the IPL 2021 season, the youngster is surely looking forward to playing more consistently in the second half.
However, the youngster also understands the kind of quality and depth that KKR have in their fast bowling arsenal. Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi and Sandeep Warrier are all more than capable of winning games for their side. In this regard, Nagarkoti opined:
"There is some frustration that is always there when you're in good rhythm but are not getting chances, but there are also other players who need to get some chances too. They try to give everyone a fair go to showcase their talent. I do believe we have pacers who can win the game for KKR from absolutely any situation. So we do have this mindset that the team should win and the best XI should play."
Dravid, in one of his interviews, had called Kamlesh Nagarkoti the best fielder in India. The youngster can also bat, which makes him an all-round package. With Team India desperate to find alternatives to Hardik Pandya for seaming all-rounders, Nagarkoti believes he can do the job for his nation.
"I have always worked on my batting and fitness since the beginning. I do talk with batsmen to understand their mindset while batting and prepare myself accordingly. With experience, I can surely contribute to the team as a genuine all-rounder. The experience of having been in the situation before will surely help me deliver," Kamlesh Nagarkoti signed off.