17-year-old left-arm pacer Akash Singh did not make as much news during the U19 World Cup, as much as he did after the biennial event ended. Akash, along with teammate Ravi Bishnoi, were among the five players who were sanctioned by the ICC for getting involved in a scuffle after Bangladesh won their maiden U19 World Cup. But a week later, the Rajasthan Royals recruit has put the disappointment of the sanction behind him, and is looking ahead to the new challenges in domestic cricket. Amidst a busy schedule, Akash caught up with cricket.com for a quick chat. Here are a few excerpts:
How and when did your cricketing journey begin?
In 2017, I took 10 wickets in a T20 game for my club while not conceding a single run. That brought me into the limelight. A lot of journalists wrote about it and that’s how the Rajasthan state cricket association noticed me. So then I played for the state team and soon later got selected in the India U19 team. I found momentum and confidence after wearing the India jersey. I started getting selected in almost every series India played and good performances warranted me a place in the World Cup.
Any particular struggles that you faced in your journey to professional cricket?
Struggle is a part of everyone’s life. What is important is the lesson it teaches you. I think it is important to enjoy struggles because they will anyway not last forever. Always live in the present and don’t stress about future. I have struggled in my own ways but my family and coach helped me a lot. I used to live in my academy itself and staying away from home always has its own challenges. I had a bit of financial problem as well but it is better to talk about solutions rather than the problem.
What do you think went wrong for India in the final?
I think we gave away too many extras and that is what went wrong. I think we were desperately looking for wickets and in that process we were unconsciously giving away extras. Wickets were the only way we could have won that game. But that didn’t happen and we bore the brunt of it.
How was the atmosphere in the team after losing the final?
The team atmosphere was very good. We had a meeting after the match and sir (Paras Mhambrey) told us that winning and losing is a part of the game. He told us that we lost after putting up a good fight so everyone’s head should be held high. We played well throughout the tournament and it was just unfortunate that our only bad game came in the final. When we were going back to the ground after setting a target of 173, sir told us two things. One was that take positives from all the achievements you have had so far in the tournament and second that winning or losing should not matter. All that will matter at the end of the day will be how hard we fought till the last ball. So the atmosphere after losing was good. This was the first time in life when I saw any team enjoying even after losing a final. Even though we returned to India without the trophy, we have got a good welcome. People are felicitating us so it is feeling really good.
How was the experience of playing in such a big tournament?
The last two months of my life have been full of experiences and learnings. The team felt like a family there. It was a long trip. We flew to South Africa quite a few days ahead of the World Cup because we played a quadrangular series there. Got to learn a lot of new things there. Bowled to different batsmen.
Any inputs from Rahul Dravid that helped you?
Rahul Dravid always focusses on the importance of being mentally strong and the importance of hard work. He keeps saying that there is no shortcut to success. These two things he keeps reiterating always.
So what is next for you? The IPL?
As far as IPL is concerned, Rajasthan Royals has many experienced international players. Looking forward to pick their brain and ask them for inputs on improving my bowling and also about developing mental toughness. I can’t wait to grasp as much knowledge and experience I can from the IPL and hopefully I get chances in the playing XI and prove my skill.