The story of an aspiring cricketer - Haris Shield star Satvik Kanabar
Cricket is not just any sport played in almost every other street across India, but it’s a form of communication, a way of expressing ourselves to our neighbors, friends and families.
Like a lot of us, Satvik Kanabar, an off-spin bowling all-rounder, fell in love with the game at a young age while watching the sport with his father. In a chat with Sportskeeda, Kanabar said, “I took a liking to this sport through my dad – he used to watch a lot of it on the television. I was enamored by the sport and was surprised by the crazy fan following and excitement shown in this nation.
“My first experience of this was when we (India) won the 2006 T20 World Cup and I saw thousands and thousands of Mumbaikars celebrating on the streets and chanting, ‘Jai Hind!’. This is when my interest in the sport developed drastically”.
It’s always great to see kids taking up sports at a young age. Kanabar was bought his first plastic kit at the age of two. He added, “ever since I held the bat for the first time in my life, there has been no looking back”. While growing up, alongside cricket, Kanabar used to play table tennis, badminton, and was a keen swimmer. Despite him devoting time to his academics and other sports, cricket always had a soft spot in his heart. He used to practice throughout the week for two hours at the age of eleven.
By the time he was thirteen, he represented Don Bosco High School as an off-spinner. After having a disappointing tournament, Kanabar was not selected for the next big event. He recounts, “I was disappointed, but wasn’t willing to give up. I kept on working hard and practiced daily”.
As Kanabar used to spend a lot of time playing sports, his parents started to get a bit worried about his academics. Therefore, his parents moved him to an international school where “for the next three and a half years, cricket took a back seat”, Kanabar recounts. Fast-forward three years later, and the sport almost knocked on his door, ready to give him a chance at redemption!
“Our school decided to participate in the Harris Shield tournament. I was picked in the team as a bowling all-rounder and in the very first match, I scored a 58 and picked up 2 wickets. In the 2nd (game), I scored a 35 and picked up a wicket in the presence of former Indian cricketer, Nilesh Kulkarni, who stood and applauded my shot when I smacked a 6 off a fast bowler that landed right out of Azad Maidan”.
Coaching in England and being trained by Ashish Kapoor
Kanabar’s confidence was back on track. The happiest people would probably have to be his parents though. So much so, that they felt they should give him another chance to play the game he loves so dearly.
Kanabar then started practicing regularly, at a club called Sunder CC at Cross Maidan. “I played close to 5 U-25 practice matches with the club and picked up 10 wickets and scored runs whenever I went in to bat”. Once again, academic pressure built up and so Kanabar was left with no choice but to stop playing the sport for some more time. He recounts, “it became difficult handling academics and cricket, which meant that I had to drop playing cricket for some more time”.
Then, when Kanabar was sixteen years old, his parents sent him to England to train under a former Saurashtra cricketer named Manoj Parmar during his summer break. “I was hungry to get some wickets and score runs”, he added. Kanabar says that this trip was the “turning point” in his career. In addition to training with Parmar, Kanabar also played for the MP Academy and Bledlow Village Cricket Club where he had a very successful stint there.
“I played 5 matches during the tour and picked up 10 wickets and scored an unbeaten half-century. In one of the matches, I broke a league record by picking up 7 wickets for 2 runs in 10 overs (including 8 maidens) and was inducted in the book of honors at the club. It was a proud moment for my family and me”.
It was certain at this point how much the game meant to him, and from here on there was no stopping Kanabar! After the tour in England and the start to his semi-pro career through a club which his school friend owned, Kanabar said, “I had decided that cricket is right for me. It’s what I enjoy the most amongst all the other activities I do”. During a corporate tournament his team played, he picked up eight wickets in four matches and set a solid base which helped his team reach the semi-finals. However, they couldn’t progress any further and got knocked out after reaching the semi-finals.
Everybody around Kanabar realized his dreams and the effort he is putting in to reach his goals. As a result, he gave himself a year to prove to his parents that he had the potential to make it to the top, upon graduating from high school. Once he finished school, Kanabar left for England once again, this time through the G-Force Cricket Academy in Surrey.
The trip was very successful for Kanabar during which he played a lot of matches and honed his skills with the help of former Indian player and Delhi Daredevils coach, Aashish Kapoor.
“During the tour, we played eleven matches, which also included a tournament we won. I picked up ten wickets in the 5-match tournament and 8 wickets tallying all the practice matches. I won the best performer trophy of the tour and felt proud of what I’d achieved during the sixteen days spent in England. During the tour, one man made a lot of difference to what I am at present; a former Indian cricketer and Delhi Daredevils coach, Aashish Kapoor. Under him, I learned so much about my bowling as well as about the game. I can never thank him enough”.
Kanabar was bursting with confidence when he returned to India. He continued to play for the corporate team where he was handed captaincy, and picked up three consecutive 5-wicket hauls in threeT20s. He also continued to play for Sunder CC.
Batsmen conquered – Hardik Pandya, Unmukt Chand, Abhishek Nayar
As the 2015 India vs South Africa series was approaching, Kanabar got the opportunity to bowl to the likes of Sheldon Jackson, Hardik Pandya, KL Rahul, Unmukt Chand, Shreyas Iyer and Cheteshwar Pujara, to name a few, all thanks to Aashish Kapoor. “I bowled well and got Pandya and Chand out”, Kanabar said. “
Adding cherry to the cake, my idol, Ravichandran Ashwin, who was recovering from injury at that time, came to bowl in the nets. His tips proved very valuable to me and I learned a hell lot about off-spin bowling from him”.
The exposure and advice Kanabar gained through the prior experience couldn’t have come at a better time, as only a few days later former Indian cricketer Balwinder Singh Sandhu, one of the members of the Indian national team that won the 1983 World Cup held a talent hunt.
Kanabar adds “I was lucky enough to be the only off-spinner to be selected in a squad of 15”. Not only did Kanabar get selected in Sandhu’s talent hunt, but he was asked to play for Matunga Gymkhana in the Cosmopolitan Shield alongside, where he picked up 7 wickets in 4 matches, before qualifying for the semi-final, which he sadly couldn’t play because of a groin injury.
Little did Kanabar know, former Mumbai cricketer Abhishek Nayar was watching the team play as he was also holding a talent hunt for his newly opened academy, ISA Ltd. “The selection process consisted of 5 rounds and I successfully passed all of them to be selected in the squad of 15. In one of the rounds, we were to bowl to Abhishek Nayar himself on the centre-wicket, setting a field of our own. I bowled 7 balls to him and got him out 4 times, while he hit me for 2 huge sixes and defended one in the remaining balls”, Kanabar adds.
Kanabar also got the opportunity to play an exhibition match between Ramesh Powar XI and Pravin Tambe XI, thanks to his spot on ISA Ltd. “I got the chance to play alongside former Indian cricketers and current Mumbai Ranji Trophy players such as Shrideep Mangela, Kaustubh Pawar, Pravin Tambe, Ramesh Powar, Siddesh Lad and many more”. When asked about this priceless experience, Kanabar adds “It was a great experience and I learned a lot from the players by sharing the dressing room along with them”.
So this has been the story of seventeen-year-old cricketer Satvik Kanabar thus far. As expected, it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, which Kanabar very well knew before he got started. “It’s been a tough roller-coaster ride. I never expected and will never expect it to be easy in the future. It’s obviously going to take a lot of time, effort, perseverance and grinding. At the moment, I’ve been practicing 4 hours everyday to make myself as good as I can and do justice to my potential”.
When asked about his future plans, this is what he had to say – “At the moment, my goal is to play Ranji Trophy for Mumbai in 2 years’ time. I am working hard towards that goal and I hope it comes true someday”.
We wish Satvik Kanabar all the success and hopefully he can make our nation proud someday by playing for the Indian National Cricket team!