Against all odds: The story of Kovai's hometown hero R Mithun
"Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen" - Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Like many young kids growing up in Coimbatore, R Mithun decided very early that he wanted to become a cricketer. He knew that the journey wasn't going to be a bed of roses but he kept working hard and despite losing his father at a young age, he had his mother's complete support as he pursued his passion.
When the Tamil Nadu Premier League was first announced, like many aspiring cricketers, he welcomed it as the platform that he needed was finally there. But the first two editions of the TNPL saw him go undrafted. While it might have been easy to lose hope, he kept working at his game and he was rewarded ahead of TNPL 2018 as he was picked up by Lyca Kovai Kings.
Throughout the group stage, he sat on the sidelines and awaited his turn. He could have been forgiven for thinking that his chance might never come as Kovai were through to the playoffs. But that didn't stop him from training as hard as he has done.
And eventually, his commitment and hard work paid off as he made his debut in the eliminator against Karaikudi Kaalai at Dindigul on Thursday. Sportskeeda caught up with the all-rounder after his debut and the delight in his face spoke volumes even before he uttered any words.
"I never felt bad for not playing. I was never down. I was always focused during the group stage, even though I didn't play. I knew I had to be ready when my chance finally arrives," says Mithun.
"The moment I got picked, I had tears in my eyes."
After having waited three years for a team to eventually pick him, a few more days wasn't going to come in his way. Did he at any time feel like giving up because it wasn't working? And his response was instantaneous and a sign of just how he has managed to come this far.
"I never really thought too much about not being picked. I knew that if I played well, I would eventually get selected. I put in a lot of hard work every day, I did well and eventually, I got this amazing opportunity with Lyca Kovai Kings. I was really very happy. I had the confidence that I would get picked and then Kovai eventually selected me. The moment I got picked, I had tears in my eyes. There were tears of joy in my mom's eyes as well," he fondly reminisces about the day his dream came true.
What about the first game against Karaikudi? What was running through his mind when he was given the ball by captain Abhinav Mukund? Did the fact that he hit a couple of crunching shots with the bat and played a useful cameo help ease his nerves?
He admits that his mom and dad were in his mind. After his dad passed away, he spoke about all the sacrifices that his mom had to make to help him play cricket and how he just wanted to thank her for everything she has done to get him here.
"Even before the first ball, I knew that I could come back from anything for my team. I was slightly depressed after being hit for a six off the first ball but the captain coming up to me and backing me was a big boost for me. Mukund gave me a lot of freedom. He said 'I will back you'. That one word made me feel very positive," he adds with a smile on his face.
He used that positivity to come back and dismiss Rajkumar off the last ball of his first over. And just like that, his nerves started to fade into the distance and the bright lights in Dindigul didn't seem very menacing anymore.
Mithun admits that the support he has received from everyone at Kovai Kings has made his job so much easier. He speaks fondly about how Abhinav Mukund speaks so casually and effortlessly with him that he almost forgets that he is an Indian international. The camaraderie with Antony Dhas, who kept encouraging him and the banter with Tamil Nadu pacers K Vignesh and T Natarajan has helped him settle seamlessly.
But Mithun remembers what got him here. "My hard work, nothing else", he states as he hopes that the game against Karaikudi is just the beginning. The start of a new chapter in his life, one in which he hopes to score a fifty and pick up a five-wicket haul in the same game.
As Emerson so eloquently put it, once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
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