If I play more Tests, I might be able to replicate my domestic success there, admits Abhinav Mukund
11167 first-class runs in 171 matches at an average of 48.13, out of which 9202 were scored in Ranji Trophy, these are the numbers of legendary Mumbai batsman Amol Mazumdar. He is widely regarded as one of the unluckiest players to have played the sport in the country as he didn't get a chance to prove himself at the international level, thanks to the competition he had during his time.
Some of the other names that belong to that category are former Haryana spinner and Ranji Trophy's leading wicket-taker Rajinder Goel, Karnataka and Railways batsman Yere Goud, Tamil Nadu's Sridharan Sharath etc. These are some names that failed to break it to the national side because of the solid line-up the Indian team had when they were playing.
There is one more category which has the cricketers who were picked to play for India but unfortunately, they were not given enough chances before being dropped from the side. One of the prominent names in that category is Tamil Nadu's skipper and out-of-favour Indian opener Abhinav Mukund.
Abhinav is lucky to have played for India in Tests but in spite of scoring 8839 runs in 124 matches at an average of nearly 49 in a 10-year-long career, the left-hander has managed to play just seven Test matches since making his debut in 2011. Out of the seven matches, he played five matches in 2011 before he was dropped from the side after the regular opener Virender Sehwag joined the team, and then made a comeback after six years.
Incidentally, Abhinav made his Test debut along with Virat Kohli against West Indies right after the 2011 World Cup. While Kohli managed to become the captain of the team, things didn't go in the right direction for Abhinav.
He might have been inconsistent at the top level but to be fair, he was never given a decent run in the Indian side. This is evident by the fact that he scored a valiant 81 in the last innings he played (vs Sri Lanka at Galle) and was dropped for the next Test after the regular opener KL Rahul returned to the side.
Adding to this, Abhinav was excluded from the Indian Test squad to face Sri Lanka. He was overlooked for the role of team's third opener, a role that was given to him in India's last three Test series and he played just two matches before being dropped.
In a bid to make a comeback to the team, he is currently sweating it out in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy where he is captaining Tamil Nadu. His comeback trail won't be an easy one as there are a lot of fellow opening batsmen making a strong case for themselves.
Sportskeeda caught up with Abhinav and the southpaw spoke on a lot of things including his competition, Tamil Nadu team, Virat Kohli, his message on Twitter that created a lot of buzz on social media etc.
Q. How was the feeling when you made your India debut?
For any kid, it is a dream to play for India. I also belong to that category. It is one of the most cherished moments of my life.
Q: You played in England very early in your career. The conditions there won't favour the batsmen. How did you prepare yourself for that?
If you look at it, I didn't have much of a choice or preparation. To be honest, I wasn't well prepared for the series. See, at the end of the day, it is your job to turn out to play for India and I didn't think of it (the conditions) too much as something that will affect me. I just went there and played. Unfortunately, I wasn't as successful as I thought I would be.
Q: You have a terrific record in the domestic matches and when you play International cricket, it is very difficult for you to replicate that. What's going wrong when you play at the top level?
I just played four innings since my comeback and I was much younger when I got my first call-up. In my four innings since my comeback, I managed to score one fifty. I think if I play more International cricket, I might be able to replicate my domestic success in International cricket as well.
Q: As an opener, sometimes you have to field for 120-130 overs before going out to bat and sometimes, you have to face the first ball of the match. How do you prepare for such situations?
It is the job for an opener to be ready for any situation. Sometimes, you might get to bat at the end of a day's play, you might get to bat on a green top on day one etc. I think these are the things that we learn and get used to it while growing up and by playing a lot of first-class games. It is a part and parcel of an opener's career. It is always good to be an opener if you get a flat wicket and sometimes, you will get a difficult wicket and you will be the first one to go out there and bat. It is the job of an opening batsman. I don't see anything different.
Q: You were a part of the 2011 team that had the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan etc. and you also played with the current set. What difference can you see in both these teams?
I think this team is much younger. I know a lot of these players as I have played with them in junior cricket. The onus of this current team is on fitness and this team is much fitter than the previous teams. This is the only difference I can see in both the teams.
Q: What difference can you see in Virat Kohli of 2008 and Virat Kohli of 2017?
Probably, in 2008, he didn't know his game that well but he was very confident back then. Now, he is a world beater and is easily one of the legends of the game. For someone to play all three formats and remain successful across them is quite a big achievement. What he is today is a testament to his hardwork and fitness.
Q: Recently, you posted a message on Twitter that gained a lot of attention. What is the reason behind the message? What prompted you to post that?
Actually, nothing happened. There was a photo that came up on social media and people started commenting on the colour of my skin. I have spoken about this before to the people who I know. It is completely unfair that people constantly keep targetting the colour of my skin. It is not right on people's part to comment on someone's skin tone. I just thought that it was something that I could put up and share my experiences from the past and at the same time, make sure that something like that does not happen again.
Q: Being the captain of the Tamil Nadu, what is your take on the team?
This is probably one of the strongest Tamil Nadu team that I have played in over the last few years. There are a lot of youngsters who have come up and have done really well for the team in the last couple of years and that is the reason why the team is doing well. Our players have been a part of Duleep Trophy, India A and the IPL. All these players gel well as a team, that is something that stood out for me at the start of this season. I think it will be really good if we go one step ahead this season and win the Ranji Trophy.
Q: Tamil Nadu has struggled to produce quality fast bowlers in the past. Lakshmipathy Balaji is the only fast bowler who stood out for the team in the last couple of decades. The current pace attack has shown a lot of promise. Is this the best pace attack TN has had in years?
I don't think these conditions (conditions in Chennai) suit medium pacers as much. Last season, we played all our matches away from home and that has helped them a lot. I think the find of K Vignesh, Ashwin Crist and Nattu did well for us last year. It was a big plus for us. Unfortunately, two of them are injured this year and Vignesh has stepped up and has done well in the new season.
Q: What does Hrishikesh Kanikar, the coach, brings in to the Tamil Nadu side?
He is a very calm and composed person and brings in a lot of experience to the table. He is someone who doesn't get frustrated easily. He is very neutral most of the times when it comes to selection and doesn't show any emotion when we are having a bad session on the field. I think he is someone who is a good addition to the team because he interacts well with the youngsters and handles the senior players beautifully. He is the biggest plus for Tamil Nadu cricket.
Q: You have a decent record in T20s. In spite of that, you played a handful matches in the IPL throughout the first six seasons and after that, you were not picked in the auction. With the auction coming up next season, have you set any goals for yourself?
First of all, the auction is too far away. Secondly, whether the franchise will pick me or not is not in my hands. The only thing I can do is perform in the domestic tournaments as much as I can. I have a very good T20 average in the domestic circuit and have done well in the TNPL as well. It is up to the franchises whether I would fit the bill perfectly and it is not up to me. Right now, my only focus in on winning the Ranji Trophy and get selected to the Indian team again.