I see myself as a Test match bowler, says Nikit Dhumal, young Maharashtra fast bowler
Nikit Dhumal had a breakthrough Ranji Trophy season this year as he ended with 11 wickets in three matches at an average of 18.81, the least for any Maharashtra bowler this season. He capped the season off by taking an 8-wicket haul against two-time defending champions Karnataka to knock them out of the tournament.
Here are excerpts from an interview conducted by students of SIMC Pune when he graced the communication extravaganza of Symbiosis Institute of Media & Communication, Fest-O-Comm 2016.
Q: When did you first start playing cricket?
A: I started playing at the age of 9 when I attended a summer coaching camp. I started playing school cricket for Katariya High School when I was in fifth standard. I played till the 10th standard when we became national champions. My performance was very good but I had to leave the sport for two years as my parents wanted me to pursue Science in 11th and 12th. I started playing club cricket after that.
Q: How did you come to the notice of the Maharashtra selectors as you had not played at the Under 19 level?
A: The BCCI had organised a fast bowling competition and I was one of the two people selected from the 800 people who came. I was called up to a camp by the Maharashtra selectors then and I performed well over there and got selected for the CK Nayudu trophy, which is the Under-25 tournament, and represented the Ranji team in the same year as well (2012).
Q: Who is the fast bowler you look up to?
A: I watch various videos of the West Indian fast bowlers but Michael Holding is my favourite. My action is similar to him as I have an open chested action. Courtney Walsh is another bowler I look up to.
Q: Was there a point where you felt that you should focus on your studies and give up the sport?
A: I didn’t get selected for the under-19 team despite performing well and wondered if I should continue playing the game but my teammates supported me and told me to not lose heart.
Q: You won the CK Nayudu trophy in 2012, defeating Rajasthan in the final. What are your memories from that tournament like?
A: I played two matches at the beginning of the tournament and took eight wickets in a match against Rajasthan and was called up to the Ranji team. I then played the quarterfinal, semi-final and final of the CK Nayudu trophy.
I had already gained a lot of confidence by making my Ranji debut. It was a great experience and the quality of cricket was very good. Most of the players from that team are now a part of the Maharashtra team in the Ranji Trophy.
Q: It is interesting that you have not played a single T20 game for Maharashtra yet. Why is that?
A: I prefer Test cricket over T20 as I think that I am a very good red ball bowler. I just like to bowl fast and that is my passion. I went for the trials of Mumbai Indians this year but got injured there which meant that I had to miss the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, which is the T20 competition.
Q: What are your goals for the next season?
A: I want to get a good season of Ranji Trophy. As for the team, we have not won the tournament in a really long time. So, the primary target would be to achieve that feat. I would be targeting 40 to 50 wickets in the season.