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Cool under pressure

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Good Catch Andrew Symonds congratulates Ravi Teja after his catch to dismiss Tillakaratne Dilshan
Good Catch Andrew Symonds congratulates Ravi Teja after his catch to dismiss Tillakaratne Dilshan

Reflecting on his IPL performance, Ravi Teja says he performs better under pressure

Dwaraka Bhamidipati Ravi Teja is a man of few words. His deeds speak more eloquently, a stunning example being a valiant 107 against Mumbai in the Ranji trophy on their turf at the Bandra Kurla complex last December. He topped the run tally for Hyderabad with 653.

What began as fun with cousins and neighbours at Kubera Towers, Trimulgherry, bloomed to a full-fledged career.

Teja began as a leg spinner but coach Appa Rao saw his batting potential, sending him up the order and letting him play for Megacity CC in the local league. Before long, he was playing for Hyderabad in its under 14, 17 and 19 years teams.

At the under-17 level, he had a lean patch. He contemplated quitting cricket to concentrate on the B. Tech course he was pursuing at Amina College, near Medchal. Teja didn’t quit, but was picked for inter varsity competitions for JNTU. He was also selected for Indian varsities team that played its Australian counterpart in Mumbai. Former Hyderabad cricket Jyothi Prasad encouraged him a lot, ensuring he emerged a stronger player, mentally.

The Hyderabad under-19 coach Youraj Singh reposed immense faith in his abilities. More keen not to disappoint his mentor than proving a point to himself, Teja had a most fruitful season.

The tour of England turned out to be disappointing in that he didn’t get his chances. Dropped for the India under 19 tour of Pakistan, he however made a mark for Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy, coming close to scoring centuries in his first three outings of his debut season.

Teja couldn’t believe it when he was selected for the Deccan Chargers, that he would share the dressing room with greats such as Adam Gilchrist and Andrew Symonds. Tense before his opening game against the Rajasthan Royals at Jaipur, he grew more relaxed as the tournament progressed. “I perform better when I’m nervous,” he says in hindsight.

Looking back, Teja feels he had done justice to his role. “I learnt so much from the stars I played with, about the approach to the game and mental preparation before a match,” he recalles. Herschelle Gibbs was very encouraging as was he helpful with discounts when shopping, for the Protean was brand ambassador for many leading labels.

The catch at deep mid-wicket to dismiss Robin Uthappa, he cannot forget as also the photograph he took with singer Akon, after that dream final. “Gilchrist is a great leader and motivator,” he says of his Aussie skipper.

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

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