Back in April and May of 2016, the world celebrated what can only be termed as a 'masterclass' from Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) skipper, Virat Kohli. Needing to battle multiple stitches in his left hand after he picked up an injury while fielding, the RCB captain put on a show of grit and determination, notching up 973 runs to his name, including four centuries.
While that very season is heralded as one for the ages, Kohli's showmanship in IPL 2016 has proved to be a motivating factor for a number of youngsters in the Indian cricket circles.
One among them, Goa's 23-year-old Suyash Prabhudessai was only a little over 18 years of age when Kohli sent the bowlers on a leather hunt. And soon, in only a matter of only a few months, the youngster might find himself living the dream of featuring in RCB's playing XI alongside Kohli.
Suyash, a hard-hitting lower order batsman was signed by RCB for his base price of ₹20 lakh in the IPL 2021 Auction, and the youngster shared his thoughts on joining his 'childhood-favourite' IPL team.
"When I got picked by RCB, it was a dream come true. It’s been my personal favourite team since the time IPL started. First Rahul Dravid, now Virat bhai, and now to think that I’ll be sharing the dressing room alongside legends like Virat bhai, ABD and (Glenn) Maxwell, I’m feeling very excited and lucky," Suyash told Sportskeeda in an exclusive chat.
The youngster, who has a knack of hitting the ball a long way into the stands, made people stand up and take notice of his ability to wield the long handle to good effect in the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Suyash scored a 22-ball 48* in a game against Madhya Pradesh with 4 sixes and 3 fours to his name, which almost helped his side chase down a stiff 215-run total. As fate would have it, that match was telecast on Hotstar, and video grabs of his firepower went viral only an hour or two after the match ended.
While he's happy for the recognition he's received courtesy of that whirlwind knock, Suyash feels he's groomed his style of play in that very fashion for the last 2-3 years.
"I’ve been practising hard-hitting for two three years. There’s a lot of difference in white ball and red ball. In white ball cricket you need to hit the ball very hard. I’ve been doing well for the last 2-3 years and now I’ll get a chance to play the higher level of cricket, so I’m really happy for that. I have proved myself, and my hard work has got me here. I will continue to work hard and do my best, even for RCB. I’ve played such innings in the past that hasn’t come on video and I’ve groomed myself in that fashion.”
"I thought Virat bhai's message was a prank from some of my friends"
Suyash was sitting alongside his teammates during a team meeting on February 18th, when he received a message from one of his family members notifying him about his selection in the RCB team.
Overjoyed at the great news, the team meeting was paused for a few brief minutes, but it was when he received a message from Kohli that Suyash claims his heart probably skipped a beat.
“When I got picked up by RCB, Virat bhai messaged me and I got shocked. First I thought it was some of my friends who were doing some mischief or pulling a prank. But it was really Virat bhai, the whole night I was thinking of that and it was honestly a dream come true. He’s my idol, the Indian cricket team captain, he’s been so successful, achieved so much in cricket and he messaged me, I was feeling very excited and very very happy.”
RCB skipper Kohli has been Suyash's idol for as long as the latter can remember, but the young all-rounder zeroed in on the 2016 season as a source of inspiration. Looking at Kohli's determination and hunger to score runs, Suyash reflects on how that led to a change in his own approach towards cricket.
"That was the point that motivated me. When I started playing cricket, it was all about only batting, bowling and fielding. But now if you see, it’s a lot about how you carry yourself on the ground, your energy level and fitness. Fitness levels speak a lot, how fit you are to play the game. People look at only 20 overs, the game is very fast."
"You need to be involved in the game to know what is happening next, you need to be smart. That’s where the mental and physical level counts. That’s where it struck me that I need to work hard on my fitness levels, that’s when I doubled my efforts, and I’m very thankful that I got picked up by RCB, I will continue to work hard.”
"Looking to finish matches for RCB" - Suyash Prabhudessai
For a youngster who made his state T20 debut only a couple of years ago, Suyash has already turned heads with some impressive performances. In 17 T20 games thus far, the Goan has 357 runs to his name at an average of 32.45 and a strike rate of 148.13.
Considering Suyash generally comes out to bat at No.5/No.6, these are indeed remarkable stats, and it's no surprise that RCB have opted for his pyrotechnics lower down the order.
As for Suyash, he's looking to make the most of any opportunity he gets at RCB.
I’m playing for my state as a batsman who can take the game till the end and finish the game for my team. I’m looking to win matches for my team, be it Goa, RCB or in the future if I play for India. I love to finish matches. I will just like to go on and make my team win, that’s what I am focussing on.”
At 23, Suyash has a chance to live his dream of featuring in RCB's playing XI alongside some of the legends who he's adored for a few years now. Rest assured, when thrown to the wolves during IPL 2021, one can expect the youngster to entertain the crowds with some of his firepower.