"This Duleep Trophy inning was my best one till now," says Nikhil Gangta
"Success comes to those who dedicate everything to their passion in life", the quote describes Nikhil Gangta's journey perfectly.
Lakhs of children dream of becoming a cricketer in India but only a handful of them have the capability of transforming their passion into their career. Himachal Pradesh's Nikhil Gangta is one such example of hard work, perseverance and hours of dedication.
As a young boy, Nikhil would be often seen playing cricket, inside his home, on the streets, on the ground and anywhere he could.
In an exclusive chat to Sportskeeda, Nikhil shared his views on his journey. Nikhil reckons cricket as his calling and believes that his desire of becoming a cricketer began at a young age when he when to the district trial in Shimla.
"My cricket journey started when I was 14 years old, I used to play in the streets then I went for the district trial in Shimla. That was my first step towards my 'calling'. When I came back from my inter-district matches, we won the finals and I became the man of the tournament, highest scorer and then I joined a cricket academy in Chandigarh. I started my coaching under Sukhwinder Bawa sir, who has also coached Yuvraj Singh".
In the recently concluded Duleep Trophy, Nikhil was representing India Blue which was led by Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal.
The final was played between India Blue and India Red. India Blue batted first, they lost a few quick wickets in the middle phase as they were reduced to 107 for 4 but a partnership between Ricky Bhui and Anmolpreet Singh kept them going but the best was yet to come.
Nikhil Gangta came to bat at No.7, with a glare in his eyes his intent was visible. The flamboyant batsman showed resilience early on in his innings and then started to put pressure on the bowlers.
He scored 130 off 241 balls including seven fours and six sixes. The 26-year-old made sure that his side gets to a comprehensive total. Nikhil was adjudged the man of the match for his entertaining innings.
"When I went to bat my plan was to stay at the wicket as I know I am capable of hitting boundaries and big hits, that's what I did when I was in my zone and I was happy that we made a mammoth score of 541 and won the game comprehensively. Batting at No. 7 and winning the game for my team, I rate this final Duleep Trophy innings as my best one till now".
Nikhil idolized Virender Sehwag while growing up and his habit of singing at the crease has probably come from his idol. "I believe music is therapeutic. It channelizes the thoughts very well. That's why I carry my music system with me during matches and when I m standing at the non-striker end, then to keep myself calm I sing songs". Music definitely helps people to relax and calm down and Nikhil is no different.
The Duleep Trophy was played in the Day-Night format and the pink ball was used. The pink ball was tested for nine years before it was first used in the first ever Day-Night test between Australia and New Zealand.
The Indian side has never played a pink ball test but the experiment of using the pink ball seems to be going in the right direction. On the difference between the pink and the red ball, Nikhil said,
"Playing with the pink ball definitely was a very new experience for me and I enjoyed it a lot. Difference between red and pink ball is that the red ball for fast bowlers start swinging after 10 over but with the pink ball the ball only swing for 10 to 15 over, because of the nature of the wicket and for spinners it was nice as the pitch was getting rough day by day. If we play on good seaming track it will be very challenging for batsman especially at night".
For the future, Nikhil would love to play under the leadership of MS Dhoni and would love to face James Anderson. He believes in taking one game at a time, "I believe in the present, I take one game at a time". Talking about his fitness, Nikhil said, "I have huge respect for everyone and I get inspired by every fitness enthusiast but I idolize myself". Nikhil's approach is definitely one to look forward to.