Aparajith gears himself up for the long haul

Personality

Aparajith gears himself up for the long haul

Baba Aparajith can easily get lost in a crowd but on a cricket field, it is his ability as an all-rounder that stands him apart.

The wiry 18-year-old shot to fame after coming up with fine performances in crucial matches for India in their under-19 World Cup-winning campaign earlier this year.

Following his showing, Aparajith returned with his head held high but remained conscious of his rather disappointing record in first class cricket. In the 2011 season, the right-hander had scored 52 runs at an average of 17.33 in five innings and scalped just one wicket after bowling 288 balls.

Starting this season with an air of confidence, the right-arm off-break bowler arrived at Cuttack to face Orissa in Tamil Nadu’s opening match of the 2012 Ranji Trophy season.

Much to his dismay, the match was washed out, but when he did get to showcase his skill against a formidable outfit in Karnataka at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, he did exceedingly well.

Scoring a patient 112 at number three against a good bowling line-up on a deteriorating wicket, Aparajith earned praise from some of the senior members of his side. “It was a little hard,” said Aparajith on the transition to the four-day format. “It's challenging for any cricketer to make that transition, you have to concentrate a lot harder.

But you just have to play your natural game and do what you know, rather than trying too much.”

Karnataka took the first innings honours but Aparajith’s knock amd jos third-wicket partnership of 177 runs with seasoned pro Subramaniam Badrinath helped his team set the pace.

“We just wanted to bat through the sessions and didn't discuss much about technique,” said Aparajith. “It is always fun to have a senior at the other end. You can pick up so many important things by just watching them bat and interacting with them between overs.”

As far as his bowling is concerned, he was not rewarded at the Chepauk but time and again he posed a threat to Karnataka’s batsmen with his consistency. The Chennai-born player is bound to get stronger and find his footing while better strips will also help him a great deal.

The Indian team already benefits from the services of Tamil Nadu spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who became the fastest Indian bowler to reach 50 Test wickets during the opening Test against England in Ahmedabad, and it seems like the trend is not going to end.

“He (Ashwin) is not an inspiration only to me. He is an inspiration to everyone. It’s great to be sitting with him and discussing cricketing matters. It’s nice to have so many seniors who are willing to spend their time talking to you and sharing with you all their experiences,” said the youngster.

Calm and composed at the crease, Aparajith bats without complicating things. He is known to accelerate when it calls for it but he sure can stay put without showing any signs of giving in as well. With the Ranji season gaining momentum, Aparajith is sure to make progess as he gets more chances to gain in experience.

“I am looking to score some big runs in any format. Growing up and making it to this stage has not been easy but here I am. What I have realised is that whatever stage you put me in, I will learn and make progress. I am known to be a hard worker and that’s something I will continue to do.

I certainly hope to make it big,” said Aparajith, who started playing the game at the age of four. The impressive showing against Karnataka has signalled his arrivial on the first-class stage and with his ability and determination he is bound to take bigger strides in the years to come.


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