Six of the best

OFF THE BAT: Ravikumar Samarth. Photo: Ashwin Achal

OFF THE BAT: Ravikumar Samarth. Photo: Ashwin Achal   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

When in form, make full of it. This instruction is heard frequently in cricket parlance. Ravikumar Samarth did just that. With six centuries in the recently-concluded Safi Darashah Trophy, the opener's stunning run carried his team all the way to a title triumph.

The tournament, which brings 16 teams from across the country to Bangalore, boasts of high quality players. All of Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy players compete here, and most of the others are on the fringes of selection for their respective State sides. Anil Kumble, Rahul Dravid and Javagal Srinath describe the Safi Darashah Trophy as a great opportunity to fine-tune a player’s skills.

Against such quality opposition, to score six tons in eight innings (with five coming in succession) is quite an achievement. Samarth’s tournament statistics - 850 runs in eight innings, at an average of 141.67 - meant that he was the runaway choice for the Best batsman award.

“I got four fifties in the last season, but I couldn't convert them into hundreds. The goal here was to get big scores; I’m happy with this performance,” the 20-year-old said, after his century for the KSCA President's XI in the final.

Leading into the Safi Darashah Trophy, Samarth had scored a century and a double century in the State-level S.A. Srinivasan Memorial (under-25) Trophy. The stage was set for the exploits that was to follow. All talk now centers around his chances of breaking into the Karnataka squad for the upcoming Ranji Trophy season. His first task, however, is to carry the good form to the All-India Buchi Babu Trophy, which got underway in Chennai a few days ago.

“It would be great to find a spot in the Karnataka team. For now, I just want to keep scoring the big runs. A few knocks in the Buchi Babu would also help,” he says.

Before his ascent through age-group cricket for Karnataka, Samarth’s introduction to the sport came in the fiercely-competitive environment of inter-school cricket in the city. The Cottonian Shield, played at the Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, is one of the highlights of a school cricketer’s calendar. Huge crowds, sometimes in excess of 3,000, provide an electric atmosphere. Passionate supporters bay for blood, often literally, while cricketers try to come to grips with the pressure which follows. “I studied in Bishop Cottons, and I played in the Cottonian Shield for the first time when I was in the sixth standard. A few years later, we won the seniors’ division, and it was a great feeling to have such a huge crowd cheering for us. It was all very new to me; a very different experience.”

During this time at school, Samarth enrolled in the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC). Irfan Sait, the academy’s Director and Chief Coach, points to his ward’s steely match temperament as the quality which makes him special. “He is cool as a cucumber. When batting, he is extremely focused. There is nothing on his mind except the ball,” Sait says.

The proud coach reveals a few more traits, seen off the field, which should keep the prospect in good stead. “Samarth is disciplined, modest and respectful. His family needs to be complimented for this. In the long run, these qualities matter a lot, both in his cricket career and otherwise.”

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Printable version | Aug 10, 2020 5:40:47 AM |

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