In Indian cricket these days, players from small villages and towns are making their place in the national team. Mukesh Kumar is from a small village of Gopalganj in Bihar, while Mohammed Shami comes from Sahaspur Alinagar village of Amroha.
Another player is rapidly climbing the ranks in this list and he is Saurabh Kumar of Uttar Pradesh. Although Saurabh Kumar was also included in the team for the 2022 Sri Lanka series, but he did not get to play any match.
This time he has been selected for the second test match against England to be played in Visakhapatnam but it still seems very difficult to be selected in the final eleven. Despite all this, rubbing shoulders with players like Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ashwin is no less than a golden dream for this humble player.
This thing also increases his confidence that his place in the team has been created due to the injury to a player like Ravindra Jadeja – that is, in a way, he can be called Jadeja's replacement.
Bitavada is a small village in Budhana area of Baghpat where Saurabh Kumar grew up. His family members expected a government job from him but Saurabh was interested in sports since childhood.
There was less cricket coaching in Baghpat, so he had to come to Delhi for coaching. He told news agency PTI in an interview that he used to travel by train every day after waiting for hours to come to Delhi for coaching.
It was here that he later got a chance to train in the summer camp organized by Bishan Singh Bedi, which proved to be a big opportunity for him. Saurabh says that Bedi did not make any changes in his bowling action but further improved his grip which made his bowling more effective. He continued to improve his level and through sports, he also got a government job when he was selected for the Indian Air Force in the sports quota.
He started playing Ranji and other domestic cricket for Services in 2014. But Saurabh was confident that he could also play for the Indian team and to fulfill his dream, he left the government job of Air Force.
He started playing cricket for Uttar Pradesh from the year 2015. But making a place in the Indian team equipped with star players was not an easy task. Saurabh worked hard year after year and kept hoping that someday the selectors would definitely remember him.
Left arm spinner Saurabh Kumar likes to be called an all-rounder. Although his primary responsibility is to dismiss the opposition batsmen with his spin, he is also capable of making good contributions with the bat.
His records also show that Saurabh is a versatile cricketer. In 68 matches of first class cricket, he has scored 2061 runs at an average of 27, which includes 2 centuries and 12 half-centuries. While bowling, he has taken 290 wickets at an average of 24.41. Regarding him, Uttar Pradesh coach Sunil Joshi says that any team can trust Kumar.
News agency PTI Sunil Joshi told, Saurabh is a brilliant bowler who can read the game well. He knows very well when to change his line and length. He has great experience of bowling in Indian conditions and also has the experience of dismissing strong batsmen like Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal.
However, 30 year old Saurabh cannot be called young as per the standards of Indian cricket. For this reason, his place in the team becomes an even bigger deal because the Indian Cricket Board and selectors often give preference to youth.
Cheteshwar Pujara is a perfect example who is probably not being included in the team because he is over thirty. Anil Kumble also raised the same question on the fourth day of the first match against England and expressed surprise that a young player like Shubman Gill gets many opportunities but a player like Pujara always stands on the margins.
Saurabh Kumar's confidence in playing for Team India increased further in the year 2021 when he was kept with the team as a net bowler in the series against England. In that series, Saurabh Kumar bowled to batsmen like Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Pujara in the nets and impressed everyone with his flight and turn.
In an interview given to a newspaper, he told that in domestic cricket, he does not get a chance to bowl to players like Kohli and Rohit, but he has learned a lot by bowling against them in the nets.
Every year for the last 10 years, Saurabh Kumar has been leaving his mark in domestic cricket. Given his consistent performance, he has become an important part of the India A team in the last few years.
He has given some memorable performances on behalf of India A which is not hidden from the eyes of the selectors also. Last year, in the first unofficial Test match against South Africa A, he took four wickets, all of which were wickets of top order batsmen.
Batting at number eight, he also made an important contribution of 22 runs. A few days ago, in the test match against England Lions, he scored 77 runs which included 16 tremendous fours. Apart from this, he also took 5 valuable wickets and led his team to victory. This was the 22nd time that Kumar took 5 or more wickets in an innings.
The wicket of England captain and international player Olly Robinson was also included in these wickets. Considering his performance, Saurabh Kumar has now been included in the squad for the second match against England. The thing to note is that he has been selected in the team in place of injured Jadeja, which means that the selectors have been impressed by both his bowling and batting.
For the last four years, Jadeja has been counted among the best all-rounders in international cricket. His all-round performance in the first Test match is no less than anyone. It is a big thing for Saurabh Kumar to join the team in place of such a top player.
In the second match against England, there is a direct competition between him, Kuldeep Yadav and Washington Sundar as to who among the three will be in the last eleven. Although Saurabh's chances are less but if the Indian management also keeps batting in mind then he can beat Kuldeep Yadav. No matter who is selected in the team, Saurabh Kumar has shown that if you pursue any goal with all your heart, it is bound to be achieved.
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