To succeed in International cricket, should contribute with bat and ball, says Kamlesh Nagarkoti
Just 17 years old and playing his second official match, his team was staring at a defeat as the defending Champions Gujarat needed 32 runs to win in 12 overs with four wickets in hand. Skipper Pankaj Singh handed the ball to the young rookie and under pressure, he single-handedly won the game for Rajasthan as he took a hat-trick and restricted the opposition 14 runs short of his team's total.
That's how fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti burst onto the scene. After that, there was no turning back for the 17-year-old as he was picked in the Indian under-23 squad for the AFC Emerging Players tournament that took place in Bangladesh. He also had a very good tour of England where he picked five-wicket hauls in each innings of the first Youth Test at Chesterfield and gave meaningful contributions in the rest of the tour.
He also proved his mettle with the bat as he scored an unbeaten 26 off 36 balls coming in at number 7 when the team needed 51 runs to win in 12 overs and took his team home with one wicket and four balls to spare.
He has been the spearhead of the Indian under-19 team and with the under-19 World Cup fast approaching, a lot of eyes will be on him as he is likely to feature in the playing XI and take the new ball for the Boys in Blue.
Sportskeeda caught up with the Rajasthan pacer and this is what he had to say.
Q. Tell us about yourself. When did you start playing cricket? When did you decide to take it up as a career?
When I was young, I used to play Cricket just to pass my time. I started taking the sport seriously when I was in the 7th grade. My brother encouraged me to play Cricket and took me to Surendra Singh Rathore, who is the coach of Sanskar Cricket Academy. Rathore was the one who spotted me first. He said that I have the talent, the capabilities to become a good pacer and I should play more Cricket. He asked me to practice with him, basically, start training under him, and I obliged. So, whatever I am, it’s all because of him.
Q. Why did you choose cricket?
It has always been my dream. I liked cricket from the beginning. I used to watch all the players (legends) play and fantasized that one day I will play like them and the people can watch me on TV.
Q. What made you choose fast bowling?
When I started taking up Cricket seriously, bowling medium pace was something that I was comfortable with. I liked bowling fast and eventually, it became my area of expertise. But the pace came to me naturally.
Q. Were there any obstacles that halted your progress? Did you get enough support from your school (with respect to attendance) and family?
To be honest, my school has backed me in whatever I did. I rarely attended school as I used to take a lot of leaves to concentrate on my game. The school management really supported me as they used to give me attendance, even when I was in class XII. My family also sacrificed a lot to support me and they back me in whatever I do. I owe them a lot.
Q. You got a hat-trick in just your second List A game. Get us through that match.
For me, it was a dream match. I gained confidence after that match. When I came out to bowl, my captain (Pankaj Singh) trusted me and he said, 'bowl whatever you want' as he wanted me to get crucial wickets. I knew that the batsmen don’t really like to face reverse swing and I tried implementing that. I just bowled wicket to wicket and that's how I got all the wickets.
Q. How is it to play under someone like Rahul Dravid?
Rahul Dravid sir is extremely motivational. His words are inspiring and he gives us a lot of confidence. He is always there for us and is very easy to approach, something that helps the player who is seeking him for guidance. He exactly knows our strengths and weaknesses and he grooms the players very well. It has been a fantastic experience with him.
Q. Recently, you played under WV Raman. Was he any different from Dravid? How was the experience playing under him?
He was really good. Recently, I was facing some problems in my bowling and I went to him straight. He told me, 'Whenever you bowl a new delivery, you will face certain problems. So don’t worry about that and keep your mind in the game.' He also advised me that I should continue bowling with pace as it is something that I always practised.
Q. You are one of the important members of the Indian team in 2019 Under 19 World Cup. How are you preparing for the big tournament?
Preparations are in place. I have been asked to work on my bowling. The bowlers should be consistent with their line and length and I am focusing on that now. Moreover, I am working on my variations as it is essential for a bowler in the death overs.
Q. What are your short term and long term goals?
I have the Vinoo Mankad Trophy. So I am working hard for that tournament. If I perform well in that tournament, I might get selected for the U-19 World Cup and also it opens the doors to future possibilities. If I get a chance to play in the Ranji Trophy, I should be able to do well. That will help me in the long run.
Q What are your strengths and weaknesses? Are there any specific areas in which you are trying to improve.
My strength is out swing. I am working on few things now. My weakness is bowling short-of-a-length deliveries and I am making sure that I master it at the earliest. Adding to this, I am trying to swing the ball with pace as it will be very helpful for me in the future.
Also, I am focussing a lot on my batting. If I have to play and succeed at the top level, I should be able to contribute with both bat and ball.
Q. Who is your idol?
Waqar Younis is my all-time favourite. I am also a big fan of Rohit Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami. I am also a big fan of Real Madrid's Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo. I learn a lot from these guys.
Additional inputs by Shruthi Singh Sadbhav.