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Cricket is played out of passion and not for the money that comes with it, reckons Uttarakhand captain Tanmay Srivastav

Tanmay Srivastav opens up on his career, from his U-19 days to being skipper of the Uttarakhand team

Tanmay Srivastav rose to limelight when he became the leading run-scorer in the 2008 edition of the ICC U-19 World Cup that India went on to win under the captaincy of Virat Kohli.

The Uttar Pradesh southpaw earned himself a place in the Challenger Series on the back of consistent performances in U-19 cricket and eventually went on to represent Uttar Pradesh in first-class cricket. He was also picked up by Kings XI Punjab in the inaugural edition of the IPL but hardly got any opportunities in the cash-rich league.

In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, the current skipper of the Uttarakhand team throws light on his cricketing career and also shares insights on the upcoming domestic cricket season. Here are a few excerpts from the interview:

Q: What have you been doing in the current pandemic situation?

Tanmay Srivastav: It began with being a bit boring, but I will say that gradually I have got habituated to it. In some ways, it has been a blessing in disguise as I have stayed with my wife at my Noida home through this entire period. As a professional cricketer, you seldom get the luxury of spending so much time with family.

Also, this entire situation has given me a lot of time to reflect on myself, analyse my game as well as assess my future plans, and most importantly, work on my mental as well as physical fitness.

The 30-year-old has constantly been working on his fitness even during the pandemic.

Q: Have you been training of late and if yes, what has your training regime been like?

Tanmay Srivastav: All that I did during the lockdown was shadow practice with the bat in front of the mirror. For that reason, I did feel a bit rusty when I actually hit the nets a month back. However, I ensured that I was constantly working on my fitness even during the lockdown in whatever way I could, like using the staircase of my high-rise building for running exercises.

I was fortunate that with the IPL being announced, the ground in which I practiced was also being used by the likes of Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), Piyush (Piyush Chawla), Karn Sharma, Shivam Mavi and Harsh Tyagi among other IPL-bound players. That gave me a great opportunity of facing good quality bowlers in the nets.

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Now that I have spent almost a month in the nets and that too with all these active players, it is getting better. I think that a professional athlete finds ways of keeping himself fit and not lose touch with their sport by continuously working on themselves. The other day, I had a conversation with Bhuvi, where he told me that he too had arranged for all kinds of gym equipments in his home itself to keep up his fitness during the lockdown.

View photos Tanmay Srivastav recently faced many IPL-bound bowlers in the nets. More

Q. You said that you got to interact with IPL-bound players. Can you tell us about their mindset going into the league with all the precautions and procedures in place for the bio bubble?

Tanmay Srivastav: It is indeed going to be challenging for the players to stay indoors for days and also travelling and playing in such testing times. It obviously will take a toll on their mental health, and I hope they can overcome these challenges and play well.

I would also like to add that with the series being organised in England and with the Caribbean Premier League taking place, it does give hope that cricket can be played and that finally, we can get a dose of watching live-action.

Q. You have been active on Twitter and seem to be following cricket a lot these days. Any thoughts on that?

Tanmay Srivastav: Yes, now that cricket action has become so hard to come by, I have been following whatever cricket is being played. Earlier what used to happen was that there was so much cricket being played at all levels and coupled with that I too was mostly busy with my commitments that I hardly got time to follow a lot of the game.

But now with a scarcity of cricket and a lot of time on hand for me, I do watch it and also tweet about my thoughts on the game. With the IPL coming up, I am sure each one of us is looking forward to watching cricket very eagerly.

Q. Talking of the IPL, how has your experience with it been like?

Tanmay Srivastav: My IPL experience was very limited as I got to bat just thrice for Kings XI Punjab. Two of those three occasions were when I walked out to face the last ball of the innings, which also happened to be hat-trick balls. So in that way, it did get a bit frustrating at times to travel and train with the squad for two-three months and yet not get the chance to showcase my abilities.

View photos Tanmay Srivastav did not get adequate chances in the IPL. More

However, I would also like to add here that back in 2008 and 2009, I would not say that my batting was at a level where I could consider myself the best person to fit into a batting order that boasted of the likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Shaun Marsh. To be sharing the dressing room with these established greats of the game in itself was a huge learning experience for me.

Q: How has your batting evolved over the years since the time you made your first-class debut in 2006?

Tanmay Srivastav: When I was young, I loved scoring big runs at whichever level I played and ensured that once I got in, I scored 100s, 150s and 200s. Even when I started playing the Ranji Trophy, my aim was always to score big and benefit my team. Now that I am the captain of the young Uttarakhand team, I am expected to play the role of a senior player and benefit the team from my leadership and experience.

At the start of my career, I was primarily a one-down batsman, but when I entered the UP (Uttar Pradesh) Ranji team in 2006, it was already a very balanced side. I was still an 18-year-old when in a match against Baroda, I was sent in at number seven or eight, and I ended up scoring 80-odd runs but then followed it up in the second innings with a duck as I was made to open the batting.

Kaif Bhai (Mohammad Kaif) was our captain, and he sat me down with the selectors and told me that I was a bright talent. But to fit into the scheme of things in the team, I had to become an opener as there was only one vacant spot. He also told me to think about it critically as it could be a career-defining decision as the opener’s position is a specialist one.

However, I took the challenge and trained hard during the off-season period to succeed as an opener. In the 2008 Ranji Trophy final against Delhi, I was flown back from South Africa where I was playing with the U-19 team, and it was very satisfying to score my maiden first-class century in the big match and that too as an opener.

View photos With his initial success, Tanmay Srivastav was touted as a future Indian cricketing prospect. More

Q. Do you think that moving up the order cost you in the longer run?

Tanmay Srivastav: No, definitely I would not say so. Just the fact that Kaif bhai gave me that opportunity to open for the team and that I could justify the decision by scoring a lot of runs in the first two seasons makes me feel grateful.

I believe that as a professional cricketer, I should be ready to perform whatever role the team demands from me and to blame my moving up the order for lack of continued success would be unfair. Had I been adamant of playing in the middle-order, I probably would not have got even these many chances and would have scored even less runs than I have.

What really cost me was that I was not able to deliver the kind of results expected from me on a consistent basis.

Q. Talking of the UP team, can you share some of your best memories with the team and give us some insight into the dressing room in that time?

Tanmay Srivastav: Having spent so many years with that team, I cannot point out one memory as the best. There are many great memories with everyone from that team. The fact that we were a successful group enabled us to be jovial and enjoy our games at all times. I feel the team’s success and positive environment enhanced my personal performances as well.

Also, the team environment was such that we all helped each other and enjoyed each other’s successes a lot. That team produced so many international cricketers. The likes of Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla and then later on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sudeep Tyagi, Shalabh Srivastav were all superb cricketers, and so many of them went on to serve Indian cricket for long.

Q. What influenced your move from Uttar Pradesh to Uttarakhand?

Tanmay Srivastav: To be honest, my performances for UP had started dipping and as an experienced player, I was expected to score 800-900 runs in a season while all I was able to score was 400-500 runs. This resulted in me sitting out an entire domestic season.

I took that time to reflect upon myself and consider future plans, and that is when Rajiv Shukla Sir gave me this opportunity of going and playing for the recently-formed Uttarakhand team. I am thankful to Shukla Sir for this chance as I believed it would be good to be a part of a young setup and contribute to their cause with my experience in first-class cricket.

Q. And how was it to be made the captain of…

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