Eight of the top 11 wicket-takers at the ICC U19 Cricket World Cup, 2020 were spinners. But India’s leg-spinner, Ravi Bishnoi was in a league of his own in them. He took 17 wickets at an economy of 3.48 in six outings at the biennial event. In the final against Bangladesh, the 19-year-old’s four-wicket haul stood out in India’s overall shoddy performance.
Back home with the award for the highest wicket-taker in the tournament, Bishnoi is now looking forward to the IPL, in which he was snapped up by Rajasthan Royals in the December auctions last year. But Bishnoi’s first brush with the IPL came in the last edition of the tournament, when he was called up by the Royals franchise as a net bowler.
“My 12th board exams were around the same time when I was called up by the Royals to bowl in the nets,” Bishnoi tells cricket.com on the call.
“But I decided to skip my exams and grab the IPL opportunity with both hands. My father tried to convince me to choose exams over the IPL, but my coaches knew that the opportunity to bowl to the Royals in the nets would be career-changing. And the exam I could have given next year also. My decisions to skip the exams paid off well because those net sessions taught me a lot.
"I got to learn a lot about the kind of mindset international players have and how to bowl to them accordingly.”
Bishnoi did not appear for the school exams next year, but instead for the biggest exam of his teenage career– the U19 World Cup. And he passed it with flying colours. He dedicates his incredible performances, some of which came under pressure, to former India U19 head coach Rahul Dravid.
“When I was speaking to Dravid sir once, he told me that my style of bowling is similar to that of Anil Kumble. He asked me to bowl stump to stump and since I bowl with pace, he said I shouldn’t give any room to the batsman. All the balls that the batsmen hit should come back to me. I applied this in my game and it really helped me.”
Bishnoi was one of the five cricketers sanctioned by the ICC for inappropriate behaviour after the World Cup finals. But he knows that in order to translate his white-ball achievements in First-Class cricket, he will have to keep his mind calm and have a good temperament.
“I have played List A and T20 cricket for Rajasthan but I am now hoping to play First-Class cricket too. I just hope I can back my strengths. In First-Class cricket it is very important to be able to read the batsmen. All established players play this format," Bishnoi quipped.
"It is a long tournament so a good temperament is important. I will have to keep my mind calm. I hope I play with the red-ball soon and learn new things from it.”
Bishnoi’s next big assignment is the IPL, which begins on March 28. The Royals have quite a few quality bowlers in their ranks, but the Jodhpur boy is hopeful of a place in the playing XI.
“IPL is a big platform. Looking forward to learn as much possible from Anil Kumble because he is a spin legend. I hope I get to perform, do well and contribute to my team’s success," said Bishnoi.
While the transition from U19 cricket to the national team is not a smooth one, the googly specialist is hopeful that one day he will wear another blue jersey, the one which has India and not India U19 inscribed on it.
“Quite a few players from Rajasthan went on the play international cricket. So I am just hoping I can do the same. It is my dream to play for India and I am working hard towards that dream," Bishnoi signed off.