Vinay Kumar bids adieu to Karnataka cricket

Vinay Kumar bids adieu to Karnataka cricket

R Vinay Kumar R addresses the media in Bengaluru on Monday. DH Photo/ S K Dinesh

Many Karnataka cricket fans were left with a lump in their throat as the news of R Vinay Kumar, one of State cricket's finest servants, moving to Puducherry spread slowly.

“I am going to miss Karnataka,” Vinay began at a press conference here at the Karnataka State Cricket Association on Monday. “It’s been a great journey for me with Karnataka for 15 years. Right from making my debut to winning Ranji Trophy titles, it’s been a memorable journey," he added. 

Ever since his debut for Karnataka in 2004, Vinay, with workhorse-like attitude and an astute brain, consistently put his name in the record books of domestic cricket. But the period between 2013 and 15 elevated Vinay's reputation. The glorious phase, which saw Karnataka become India's undisputed champions, is what Vinay will be most remembered for.  

As if leading a team filled with exceptional talent wasn't enough, the right-arm medium pacer delivered as an individual as Karnataka scripted an unprecedented double-treble: winning the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Cup for two successful seasons.

From a promising bunch, many from Karnataka went on to become international stars. Vinay too donned the India jersey. But he continued to remain the face of Karnataka cricket. "Karnataka has the ability to dominate for a decade," Vinay, a true servant of Karnataka cricket had said.  

If one observed the pattern carefully, one could see Vinay's decision coming. Stuart Binny and CM Gautam, two other stars of Karnataka's golden generation had already moved out. Three years ago, Karnataka welcomed a transitional phase when key players missed a major portion of seasons due to their international commitments. Now again, Karnataka are seeing the exit of their experienced campaigners.  

"I felt it’s high time I gave youngster a chance. When I made my debut, Venkatesh Prasad retired and I got a chance and then I went on to play for India. I will be happy to see a youngster take my place and go on to represent the country,” he said. 

Vinay was confident of the young crop to shine. "Prasidh Krishna is doing really well. T Pradeep and Prateek Jain are fast improving. There is Ronit (More) as well. If these guys bowl in tandem with senior man Mithun (Abhimanyu), we will have a quality pace attack," he said.  

While performance was never a question in Vinay's case, his ageing body showed signs of fatigue in the last two seasons.  "Of course, today my body might take little longer to recover but on the field, I still have the same energy I had on my debut. Even last season, I was consistent in Syed Mushtaq Ali and it felt special to win the title for the first time," he explained. 

While he has always maintained that the double-treble was closest to his heart, Vinay recollected some of his best moments with Karnataka. "My spell in Bengaluru which skittled out Mumbai for 44 in the Ranji Trophy semifinal is special. Then I enjoyed my Ranji hat-trick against Mumbai in Nagpur two years back. Though we lost it, I can never forget the Ranji final against Mumbai in Mysuru in 2009."

Sudhakar Rao, secretary, KSCA spoke on Vinay's commitment. "He was a complete team man. Whenever he felt he wasn't completely fit, he never risked himself to play the game. He would always look for ways to encourage youngsters. The team came first for him always," he offered.   

For die-hard fans, his decision was a rude shock.

"Can't imagine Vinay playing for another team."

"It's an emotional news tough to handle," a couple from thousands of reactions on Twitter said. 

Vinay though was positive about the future. "I was a bit confused when I got the offer. I spoke to my wife and KSCA management before taking the decision. I am looking forward to groom the youngsters in Puducherry. There is JAK (J Arunkumar) as well. We share a good rapport. I am positive about this move and I hope I get good results," he said.

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