A 19-year-old Virat Singh was one of the stars of the Jharkhand team that made it to their first-ever Ranji Trophy semi-final in 2016-17. Since then, he has gone on to establish himself as one of the mainstays of his domestic side. However, on Thursday, Virat was one of the uncapped picks in the IPL 2020 auction, who had a base price of 20 lakh. After a fierce bidding war between Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) and Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), it was the Hyderabad franchise that eventually landed the southpaw for almost 10 times of his base price.
After wrapping up the Ranji match against Assam, Virat watched the auction along with his roommate Shahbaz Nadeem, who will be his teammate at SRH as well. Virat says he was surprised to see so much interest in him, but was confident that he will be playing for an IPL team in 2020.
“To be honest I was very surprised that my bid went up to 2 crore (1.9 crore). I always knew that I was going to get selected for one of the teams in the IPL, but I never expected that my bid will go so high. So, I am really happy, but I just want to continue the process and keep working hard, which is what I have been doing in the past. Hopefully, I will get a chance in the XI and will try to do well for Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“Actually, I was watching the auction with him (Nadeem). He was my room partner. Both of us were really happy that we are in the same team and this is going to be my first IPL season, so I’ll have someone who share his experience and comfort me.”
However, Virat’s number, especially this season suggests that he would surely end up with a franchise. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019-20, Virat smashed 343 runs at 57.16 and scored them with a strike-rate of 142.32. His knocks included an unbeaten 32-ball 56 against Gujarat and a smashing 66 not out off just 44 against Karnataka. In the 50-over domestic format, he had a healthy average of 83.75. VVS Laxman mentioned that Virat can be used as a ‘floater’ – a role Virat does not mind doing.
“This season my batting position hasn’t been consistent. I have been batting up the order, I’ve been batting down the order. I’ve been going according to the demand of the team. I’ll do the same. Whatever the management asks me to do, I’ll do,” the Jharkhand batsman said.
With the first ever IPL contract comes the pressure of going shoulder to shoulder with some of the prominent names in international cricket. The youngster will have the opportunity of sharing the dressing room with the likes of David Warner, Kane Williamson and Rashid Khan among others. Added to that, he will also be playing under World Cup winning coach Trevor Bayliss, which is something Virat is looking forward to.
“Well, it’s always nice to play with such international players, that too who have been performing consistently well and are right at the top of international cricket,” Virat said.
“I have heard a lot about the coach. I was in England last year, playing County cricket. So, a lot of people were talking about him, saying that he is not only a good coach but is a gem of a person. VVS Laxman is also there. It will be a great experience,” he added.
Talking about the changes he has made in his game in the last couple of years, Virat said, “I have been working really hard on my fitness. That has helped me evolve as a white ball cricketer. Earlier, I wasn’t doing that well in white ball cricket, but now I know that if I try to hit a six and I connect it, it is going to go out of the park. With the kind of work that I’ve put in, I have that much confidence now.”
Since their historic semi-final in 2016-17, Jharkhand have not been able to reach the heights they would have wanted to, but Virat believes that they have the squad this time around to win at least one of the championships.
“I think we have the team to win one of the championships at least. We have got a terrific bunch of players, not only in white ball, but they have been doing well in red ball cricket as well. Yes we reached the semi-final couple of years back, since then we have not been doing that well. But this season we have started off really well in the Ranji Trophy. We have two outright victories. So, we are looking forward to making it to the knockouts first. We want to make it big this year. We want to make it to the final and win the Ranji Trophy.”
Virat is hopeful of a place in the India A side that will tour New Zealand in January 2020. “There is a New Zealand tour in January. Fingers crossed for that. I have done pretty well in Vijay Hazare Trophy, Deodhar Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. I am expecting my name there. If not I’ll play Ranji Trophy and try to do well here, then next goal will be to do well in the IPL. Let’s see what happens. Obviously the ultimate goal is to play for India, for that I will have to perform well wherever I play.”