New feather in his cap

RARE DISTINCTION: Reddy Apparao Vishwanath is a clean striker of the ball. — Photo: Satish H

RARE DISTINCTION: Reddy Apparao Vishwanath is a clean striker of the ball. — Photo: Satish H  

REDDY APPARAO VISHWANATH. Well, he is yet another highly, promising cricketer waiting in the wings with a face which clearly reflects the future of Hyderabad cricket.

This 16-year-old, middle-order batsman has achieved a consistency level, which cannot for sure be ignored. A clean striker of the ball with admirable technique and temperament, Vishwanath has been in the news of late, for all right reasons.

The rare distinction of scoring 1000 runs this season in 17 matches (different grades) being yet another feather in his cap.

Born in a cricketing family with his father, Appa Rao, having played for State Bank of Hyderabad, and Vishwanath's elder brother, R.A. Sunil, a regular for Railways team in local league, cricket seemed to have come quite naturally for Vishwanath ever since he dabbled with a cricket bat at the age of five.

That was the time when one of Hyderabad's best-known coaches, late Sampath Kumar, spotted the inherent talent in this youngster and started taking him to nets in the Secunderabad High School.

When the graduation into the sport is done by someone as sincere and dedicated as Sampath, the results are bound to be very good.

The coach was quick to predict that his ward had abundance of talent and would reach higher grade in competitive circuit. Importantly, Vishwanath didn't let him down.

He let his performances speak. Like the 203 not out against Uttar Pradesh in the pre-quarter-final of the All India under-16 tournament last year, which was a perfect illustration of his sheer class and the abililty to play on its merit.

He hit just 10 fours during that double century and it may well indicate of his staying prowess and the essence of playing straight.

One of the problem areas for this gifted batsman can well be his tendency to hit the ball in the air when he essays those on-drives.

Apparently, he needs to curb to go for the strokes a bit too early instead of waiting for the ball to make those vital, necessary last-minute adjustments. Vishwanath confesses about this but insists that he is a much different cricketer now making necessary amends after discussions with his coach, John Manoj, at St.John's Sports Coaching Foundation.

That he is focussed on achieving big in the coming months can be guessed by the plain fact that he has extended three-hour evening sessions daily with his father at the Army School.

This Intermediate second year student of Ramakrishna Junior College (Secunderabad) is gunning for a slot in the State squad.

Certainly, he may have to wait for that for some more time but if he keeps on improving with each match and comes up with big scores, he might well earn the cap much earlier given the inconsistent batting of seniors in the Hyderabad squad of late.

There is an element of certainty for anyone who has been watching Vishwanath in local circuit.

That is about his ability to improve from each match and the willingness to learn. Consider the scores in the South Zone under-17 championship a few days ago in Hyderabad.

They read an impressive 67 vs Karnataka, 65 and 35 vs Andhra, 107 vs Goa, 55 vs Kerala, 55 and 28 not out vs Tamil Nadu.

Unfortunately, he failed in the South Zone under-19 grade with scores of 27 vs Karnataka nd 20 vs Tamil Nadu in the two matches he figured.

In fact, this five foot, four inch classy middle-order bat had a heady start in the South Zone under-14 grade in 1998-99 scoring 114 on debut against Goa and with a low score against Karnataka in the two matches he played in that season.

Interestingly, he is a very effective off-spin bowler, which saw him claim four wickets besides hitting 84 to guide Ramakrishna Junior College to triumph against Combined Districts in the Parle Cup inter-schools tournament last month.

But, he is yet to be a regular bowler in the zonal grade. An interesting sidelight of his brief but impressive career has been the fact that he played school football and hockey as forward for St.Andrews before concentrating on the willow game.

This sentimental cricketer, who makes it a point to wear the blue cap, presented by his brother, is also clearly inspired by the heroics of Ambati Tirupati Rayudu.

"His batting and the subsequent recognition did demonstrate to us that big scores in big matches will help one to be in the limelight. There is lot of hope for youngsters like me now in Hyderabad,'' says Vishwanath. His next big event is the All India under-17 knock-out phase in Kanpur in a couple of weeks from now.

And, Vishwanath is keen to show to the cricketing world where he is heading for. His favourite is the sweep stroke and is keen to sweep away the opposition in the coming months.

Without doubt, another bundle of talent all set to explode on the big stage in the near future.

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