"That will never leave my mind" - Kumar Kartikeya on Madhya Pradesh's historic Ranji Trophy triumph

Kumar Kartikeya and other MP players celebrating after historic Ranji Trophy title. (P.C.:BCCI)
Kumar Kartikeya and other MP players celebrating after historic Ranji Trophy title. (P.C.:BCCI)

Kumar Kartikeya's dream 2022 just got better as Madhya Pradesh (MP) won their maiden Ranji Trophy title against the mighty Mumbai. The 24-year-old was the star for MP as he ended up with 32 wickets, the second-highest by any bowler this season.

However, success didn't come too easily for Kartikeya early on. In age-group cricket, the left-arm spinner didn't get a chance to play for Uttar Pradesh. This motivated him to leave his house and start an inspirational struggle to fulfill his dream of playing cricket professionally.

Speaking in an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Kumar Kartikeya opened up on his struggles in his early cricketing days. He also spoke about the role of his childhood coach in developing him as a wicket-taker, saying:

"During those days, I wasn't getting chances for UP even when I was doing well. So I decided to step out of the house and went to Delhi where I met my coach Sanjay Bhardwaj sir, who completely changed my life. His way of coaching transformed me."

Kumar Kartikeya on his variations

Kartikeya made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut for Mumbai Indians earlier this year. He looked full of confidence on the biggest stage and in an interview claimed that he could be called a "mystery spinner." The 24-year-old shed light on how variations are important in shorter formats, saying:

"Variations in T20 are important because of batters cannot figure out what you're bowling, it will be difficult to hit you. So I always focus on having 5-6 variations up my sleeve. So by the time batter understands, my four overs will be done and we will also get 1-2 wickets."

But when it comes to red-ball cricket, Kumar Kartikeya accepts that it's important to keep things simple and continuously hit a particular line and length. This clarity is exactly what has helped him become successful in both white-ball and red-ball cricket for MP. He added:

"I believe I should bowl more of left-arm spin in domestic cricket, especially in days cricket. Because I think in days the area where you hit consistently for a long time is important. My focus was on not letting the batter score runs so that the pressure is created and that makes it easier to pick wickets."

Kumar Kartikeya on Chandrakant Pandit's impact on MP

Former Mumbai and MP stalwart Chandrakant Pandit had an emotional fairytale ending when MP finally won their maiden Ranji Trophy title. Pandit was MP's captain in the 1999 final and coincidentally that game was on the same ground.

MP ended up on the losing side back then and it was a heartbreak for the veteran. However, 23 years later, he returned to the same ground as a coach and his tactics paid off as his side got the better of the favorites Mumbai.

Kumar Karitkeya believes that Pandit is wholly responsible for MP's triumph and this is what he had to say about it:

"Honestly, the entire credit for the win goes to him (Chandrakant Pandit sir) only. We used to qualify for knockouts even before, but he made us dream about bigger things. He took us out of our comfort zone, changed our practice routine, our way of living, and discipline also changed and all that discipline made the difference for us in the end."

He added:

"The entire planning was done by him and we realized that cricket can be played this way too. We used to think it's just a game of bat and ball, but he showed us that mind games and strategy are also a part."

Kartikeya also spoke about how he dreamt of running onto the field along with his teammates when the winning run was scored by Rajat Patidar. He concluded by adding that he will never forget the moment and said:

"In Ranji Trophy, the moment when Rajat bhaiya scored the final run and we ran into the ground, I think that will never leave my mind. That was a moment that I saw so many other teams do so that was a dream to do that."

Kumar Kartikeya will soon return home and it will surely be an emotional return as he lived up to the promise that he had made to his loved ones.

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Edited by Anantaajith Raghuraman
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