Vinay Kumar: Story of grit, determination and success
The rise of Karnataka fast bowler, R. Vinay Kumar, has been meteroic and stupendous. His father was an auto-rickshaw driver and his beginnings were humble to say the least. Add to this the fact he was trying to break into a side that already had Dodda Ganesh and David Johnson in its ranks both of whom had represented India. But like a true Champion, the Devangere Express has defied all odds and truly carved a niche for himself in the country’s premier domestic tournament.
On the occasion of his 31st birthday, we take a look at one of the best bowlers in the domestic circuit over the past decade years or so. Pace was never his forte and like Venkatesh Prasad, Vinay Kumar too relied on out-swingers, cutters and bowling a probing line for long spells.
He made his debut in 2004 against a strong Bengal side that the likes of the then Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly, Deep Dasgupta and Ranadeb Bose in it’s ranks. The signs of a champion bowler were evident in the very first inning as Vinay took three wickets, which also included that of Ganguly. Although he could not prevent his side from a heavy defeat, there was general consensus was that the side had found a talented lad.
Foray into the IPL
Vinay took more than 20 wickets that season. He followed that up with successful performances in the following two seasons as well. But it was not until the 2007-08 season that Vinay came into his own. It was a dream season for as he took 40 wickets to end up as the second highest wicket taker. This prompted Royal Challengers Bangalore to give him a contract.
The season was a forgettable one for both RCB and Vinay Kumar as well. In 2009-2010 domestic season, Vinay Kumar ended up being the highest wicket taker in the Ranji Trophy and Duleep Trophy. It was in the 2010 edition of IPL that Vinay Kumar came into the prominence once again as he took 16 wickets which was the highest among all fast bowlers. This resulted in him being selected in the squad for the 2010 ICC World T20 in the Caribbean.
A mixed international career
It was after the World Cup (T20) that Vinay Kumar played ODIs against Zimbabwe, Australia, England and West Indies. It was against Srilanka that he claimed a career best 4 for 30, winning him the Man of the Match award as well. He also made his Test debut in 2011 against Australia at Perth which so far is his only Test appearance till date.
2013 was a mixed year for Vinay Kumar as he was the part of India’s historic Champions Trophy win in England but also conceded 102 runs off his nine overs against Australia on November 2 at his home ground. Thus, earning the dubious distinction of claiming the worst bowling figures by an Indian in an ODI. Sadly, this also happens to be the last time that he featured in International Cricket.
The year 2014 was nothing short of a dream for him though as he led Karnataka to a historic treble as they won the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Trophy. He led Karnataka to their 7th Ranji Trophy crown, 5th Irani Cup title and a first ever win in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He was also a part of Kolkata Knight Riders’ IPL winning squad.
Vinay Kumar has taken 418 wickets in First Class cricket till date and is the highest wicket takers among active players. But more than the wickets, it is the humility and perseverance that make him such a champion. His success story proves the old adage – “Where there is a will, there is a way” – true.
All in all, it is fair to say that Davangere Express has come a long way from being an auto-rickshaw driver’s son to one of Karnataka’s greatest players. He has well and truly established himself in the pantheon of Modern Ranji Trophy Greats.