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I owe a lot of my confidence to Rahul Dravid - Abhimanyu Easwaran

Last updated on 19 May 2021 | 04:05 PM
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I owe a lot of my confidence to Rahul Dravid - Abhimanyu Easwaran

With injury concerns around Shubman Gill, Easwaran is likely to be in the fray for the opener's role against England

Due to a leg injury, Shubman Gill could miss the Test series against England. This might provide an opportunity for Abhimanyu Easwaran - sent as a stand-by player - to make his way to the main side. 

Bengal batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran has been one of the most prolific run-getters in the Ranji Trophy. Since making his debut in 2013, Easwaran averages 43.57 in 64 First-Class matches, which also includes 13 centuries and 18 half-centuries. Though the right-hander was in poor form throughout the 2019-20 season of the Ranji Trophy, he led from the front as the captain, taking the Bengal team to the final of the tournament. 

His call-up to Team India as a standby player for the home and away series against England is a testament to the hard yards he has put in all these years, both for Bengal and India A. Before leaving for Mumbai in May, from where Team India will be flying to England, the 25-year-old caught up with for a quick chat. 

How have you been preparing for the tour of England? 

My dad built a cricket academy in the early 2000s. The Abhimanyu Cricket Academy is in Dehradun and that is where I've been practising ever since the Covid19 outbreak began. I went to Kolkata to play club matches but returned home two weeks back. Last few days I tried to practice keeping in mind the conditions in England. I woke up early in the morning and practised on a grassy pitch with moisture. We also used cheap balls to practice as they swing better. I played in England for India A in 2018 so I have a fair idea of the conditions there and I practised keeping those challenging conditions in mind. 

What were a few things you learnt as a standby player for the home series against England?

There is not one particular thing that I learnt. You get to learn a lot of things when you are with the Indian team. I learnt a fair bit from the team during practice sessions. It was a great experience to spend time with the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara, and others. There was positivity in the team even after losing the first Test in Chennai. The entire team management made sure that everyone remained positive and that’s how we bounced back to win the series. The intensity with which everyone practised in the nets was also great to watch and learn from. 

Under your captaincy, Bengal reached the final of the Ranji trophy after 13 years. Tell us about the captaincy experience. 

Leading Bengal to the final of the Ranji Trophy for the first time in 13 years was definitely special. But it was a team effort. Manoj Tiwary and Arun Lal sir guided me thoroughly. Beating a strong Karnataka side in the semi-final on our home ground was also very special. But things didn’t go our way in the finals. It was disappointing but to have reached the finals was also quite a good experience. 

You are largely seen as a red-ball specialist when your stats in white-ball cricket are also decent. What do you have to say about that?

(Abhimanyu averages a little over 48 in List A cricket and 33.64 in T20s at a strike rate of around 131)

I put in an equal amount of effort for all three formats of the game. Since we didn’t play a lot of cricket last year, I got time to polish my skills in white-ball cricket. But I think people know me as a red-ball player because that is where I have excelled the most. 

Do you think that the cancellation of the Ranji trophy due to Covid19 can affect your performance?

No, I don’t think so because I practised for red-ball cricket even though we didn’t get to play it. I think I am well prepared to make a debut if I get the chance to. 

Tell us about the influence of Rahul Dravid in your career while he was the coach of India A

Rahul Dravid has always been my idol. There was a phase in my career when I was getting good starts but was not able to convert them into big scores. So Rahul sir told me to just keep it single and take it one ball at a time. This sounds like a simple and small input but it actually helped me a lot. I’ve learnt a lot from him about how to tackle different situations and owe a lot of my confidence to him. 

Not too many players from Bengal have gone on to represent India. Expectations must be high from you?

Well, expectations are always high from your near and dear ones. They are happy that I have got this far but will be much happier when I debut for India. That has been our collective dream all these years. People in Kolkata love sports and are very happy on seeing their local athletes represent the country. I hope I can do that for them. 

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