Report Wire

News at Another Perspective

How a farmer’s son from a village in Junagadh helped Steve Smith put together for Ravichandran Ashwin

4 min read
How a farmer’s son from a village in Junagadh helped Steve Smith prepare for Ravichandran Ashwin

Mahesh Pithiya watched his first cricket match in a paan store in Nagichana, a village which is an hour away from Junagadh, a cricketing backwater. It was Sachin Tendulkar’s farewell Test on the Wankhede Stadium again in 2013.

During this ‘public screening’ of the Test match within the village, Pithiya observed that his bowling motion was just like off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. The similarity was a coincidence, Pithiya mentioned as a result of earlier than that day he had by no means seen Ashwin bowl. Back then he was a village-level tennis-ball off-spinner. He caught to his pure motion and almost a decade later it helped him get an enormous break — bowling to one of many biggest batsmen of this period, Steve Smith.

The likeness had caught the eye of the touring Australian Test group eager to copy a Test match in India really feel throughout observe forward of the four-Test sequence that begins on February 9. Pithiya, from a farming household, boarded a flight to Bangalore on Wednesday.

“Steve Smith was the batsman I bowled to the most over the past two days. The Australian batsmen only realised I am similar to Ashwin when I started bowling to them during practice. Smith was very keen on facing me,” Pithiya says concerning the visiting group’s observe periods in Alur. Pithiya, nonetheless in awe of the standard of batsmen he bowled to, says he ‘dismissed’ Smith on a couple of events.

Pithiya, 21, made his First-Class debut for Baroda in a Ranji Trophy recreation in opposition to Uttar Pradesh in December. He wasn’t within the limelight or on the radar of the Australian group however a throw-down specialist from Baroda forwarded a video of his bowling to Australia’s assistant coach Andre Borovec. “I was asked if I knew any good spinners and I forward the video of Mahesh. The similarity of his action with Ashwin is there but he is also a very good spinner,” Pritesh Joshi, the throw-down specialist, mentioned.

Pithiya, 21, made his First-Class debut for Baroda in a Ranji Trophy recreation in opposition to Uttar Pradesh in December. (Express photograph)

The sudden highlight, which adopted a write-up by Cricbuzz concerning the ‘Ashwin impersonator’, has given Pithiya his first brush with fame. He says he has given half a dozen interviews, together with to the official broadcaster of the four-Test sequence. Cricket Australia’s official web site had a write concerning the Ashwin duplicate.

Till Friday night, the second day of observe in Alur, Pithiya couldn’t discover time to have a dialog along with his people again house — his father Viran, mom Maniben and brother Dinesh.

Pithiya mentioned he’s pinching himself after getting the chance to remain in the identical group lodge because the Australians, journey of their group bus and bowl to Test batsmen from the No.1 group on this planet.

“Junagadh is not known to produce cricketers, so it goes without saying that avenues hardly exist for a young player who wants to make it big. There is a lot of tennis ball cricket,” Pithiya mentioned.

He adopted within the footsteps of his tennis-cricket-crazy brother Dinesh. The boys performed within the village however had been in search of a possibility to improve their abilities. Pithiya heard about two boys from a close-by village who had made it to a cricket hostel in Porbandar. His brother inspired him to go for trials — first in Junagadh after which Porbandar.

The Porbandar stint lasted nearly six months and Pithiya felt he wasn’t progressing. “A coach called NK Sharma had come to the hostel on deputation. He advised me to move to Baroda. Good, I listened to him. I played for Baroda’s Under-19 team and also represented them in Ranji Trophy this year,” Pithiya mentioned.

The Australians have began calling him ‘Ashwin’ however they aren’t the primary as a result of the similarity in supply stride and the lead-up had been observed by different groups previously. The carrom ball remains to be a piece in progress, Pithiya mentioned. “I have an arm ball and a backspin delivery. I am working on a few variations,” Pithiya added.

Pithiya is scheduled to fly again house on Sunday by which period the Australians will probably be packing their baggage and heading to Nagpur, the venue for the primary Test match. “Being asked to bowl against the Australians was an unexpected opportunity. I will gain from it but I know I have a long way to go in my cricket career,” Pithiya mentioned.

When he’s house, even after he moved to Baroda to play cricket, Pithiya helps his dad and mom by chipping in on the farm. “Groundnuts and wheat are what we grow. I work on the farm even now. One shouldn’t lose touch with one’s roots.”