“Honestly, I didn’t expect to be picked for the Test,” Mithun told Deccan Herald from Indore, after he was named in the 15-member squad for the first Test against South Africa. “I thought I would get to play in the practice match (for Board President’s XI) and then if I did well in that tie, there was a chance for me to play the second Test. But I am happy nonetheless.”
The 20-year-old had taken the Ranji Trophy by storm, emerging the highest wicket-taker in his maiden season, but it was not just the number of scalps (47) alone that attracted wide attention. It was also the manner in which he collected them -- hustling batsmen through pace and bounce.
“I am very happy for Mithun, he deserves a place in the national side,” reacted Karnataka and South Zone coach K Sanath Kumar.
Himself a medium paceman, Sanath should know a thing or two about fast bowling. “It was almost expected that he would be selected after what he achieved in the Ranji Trophy. He has got good work ethics and is superbly focused to go with his bowling skills -- he has a good bouncer, yorker and a big inswinger. He can be a handy lower-order batsman as well. He has got great potential and with some good guidance, I am sure he will have a long haul with the national side,” remarked Sanath.
Mithun thanked his coach for his climb up the ladder. “Sanath sir is always there to help me with anything I ask for. I would also like to thank my club Vultures’ management and my father for their support,” noted Mithun.
Rahul Dravid’s assured guidence too played a part in making an immediate impact. “He was of great inspiration whenever he was available to play for the State. He just told me to approach each game as I would my club match and not put extra pressure on myself,” he added.
His raw pace may have caught everyone’s imagination, but the strapping young lad understands he has a lot to pick up. “I think reading the situation early is what I should learn,” he pointed out. “A lot of times, I just bowl without trying to outthink the batsmen. I also need to be patient.”
The presence of R Vinay Kumar -- somewhat unlucky to miss out on a national call-up despite consistent performances -- has been of immense help to Mithun. “It is great to have such a helpful senior. Whenever I would make a mistake, he would walk up to me and point out where I was going wrong. Sometimes, he would watch a batsman and if he found any chinks in them, he would come and point it out to me to work on it,” he explained.
There was, however, some consolation for Vinay, who was picked for the Board President’s XI along with Manish Pandey. “It’s unfortunate Vinay missed out, because he too has done equally well. We expect him to be picked for the one-dayers,” said Sanath, under whose stewardship Karnataka appear on their way to regaining past glory.
Accolades pour in
* GR Viswanath: I have been watching him over the last two years. He is progressing rapidly. It is good for him and Indian cricket. At this age, he has been consistently clocking 140 plus. As he gains experience at the top level he should get quicker. I would advise him to bowl fast while maintaining line and length. He should not get into the mindset of bowling 130 or 135 km and settle for line and length as most bowlers do after they make it to the national team.
* Javagal Srinath: It’s good news. It’s a wonderful opportunity that he must grab with both hands if he gets a chance to play in the final eleven. He's a good bowler on Indian tracks. His efforts have been rewarded. But I do feel sad for Vinay (Kumar).
* Dodda Ganesh: He has followed in Srinath’s footsteps, he is the second Srinath from Karnataka. I feel really happy, proud and extremely emotional. He is a sincere and honest boy. I have been working with him for the last 2-3 years. We are neighbours, and at the start of the season, I told him I want him to be the highest wicket-taker in the country and to win matches for Karnataka. He is only 20, he needs a lot of guidance. He should speak to men like Zaheer, Srinath and Venky so that he can get better. His workload must be managed, he needs to be taken good care of. I also feel if he plays County cricket, he will learn a lot.
* Venkatesh Prasad: He deserves it. The way he has performed this year is phenomenal. Right from the first match where he got a hat-trick and whatever liitle I have seen of him, I think he has got the stuff in him. He is young, committed and dedicated and I am really happy.
* Roger Binny: I am quite happy. After a long time, a speedster from Karnataka has made into the Test team. I have seen him play and he has a very good action and pace. With age on his side, I think he will go a long way.
* Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar, KSCA President: On behalf of the Managing Committee of the KSCA I wish to congratulate A Mithun for being selected to the Indian team. Also I congratulate R Vinay Kumar and Manish Pandey for having been selected in Board President’s XI.