Like countless other young cricketers, Vysakh Vijay Kumar too wanted to become a batsman, an opener no less. Hailing from Karnataka, the home to legends such as GR Viswanath and Rahul Dravid, it was not a very surprising thought either.
Finding his prowess in fast bowling
But then he found his sporting superpower—he could bowl fast, and the spark came from a rather unexpected source—a bit of harmless teasing.
"During his under-17 days, Vysakh was playing for Basavangudi Cricket Club, and his concentration was on batting then and bowling occasionally. They had a coach named Ramana, and he would sometimes tease him because Vysakh was a bit overweight at the time and he would tell him he could not bowl fast. It was not rude or anything, but Ramana wanted to challenge Vysakh and make him concentrate on his bowling, says Vijay Kumar, Vysakh’s father, who now works at the Karnataka State Cricket Association.
“Vysakh indeed took it as a challenge and started concentrating on bowling more and soon became good at that. Until that moment, Vysakh was working more on his batting, but now he has developed as a bowler who can contribute with the bat as well.”
Father's sacrifice to help his son's cricketing dreams
Vijay Kumar also had to make sacrifices. He left a lucrative job at Hindustan Lever to help his son take cricketing strides.
“I had to travel with him for matches, so I had to leave the job at Hindustan Lever, as my wife, who was working with a private firm, took charge of the home. So, we were helping Vysakh concentrate on cricket without having to abandon his studies. Vysakha also has a masters in international business relations from the Jain College and now has settled into a job with the AGORC,” says Vijay Kumar.
The perfect mentor: Former India and Karnataka Pacer A Mithun
However, there was another person who helped Vysakh immensely in his cricketing journey—former India and Karnataka pacer A Mithun. He was the perfect mentor for Vysakh.
“Mithun saw Vysakh at Karnataka nets during his last season with the state team. He was very impressed with his skills and attitude, so he asked Vysakh to train with him. Mithun is very particular about physical fitness, and this helped Vyaskh also to improve his fitness, and of course, Mithun is a very experienced cricketer, which hence helped Vyaskh to hone his cricketing skill sets as well,” says Vijay Kumar.
Impressive performance in domestic cricket
During his stint with Karnataka, which started in the 2021–22 season, Vyaskh has been impressive, dishing out a fine variety of yorkers, knuckle balls, etc. Vyaskh might not have a paint-stripping pace, but he is sharp enough to trouble batters on most surfaces, as evidenced by his numbers.
From 10 first-class matches, Vyaskh has taken 38 wickets; 11 wickets from 7 List-A matches; and 14 T20s have yielded 22 wickets and an impressive economy rate of 6.9.
From disappointment to dream realisation: Vysakh's IPL journey
Any cricketer who excels in domestic cricket now also dreams of playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), and Vyaskh was no exception. He did realise his dream, but not entirely without its own twists.
“Vyaskh was a bit disappointed when there was no bid for him in the IPL 2023 auction as he had a good domestic season. He even had trials with Lucknow Supergiants, Mumbai Indians, and Chennai Super Kings, but there was no news afterwards. But then he got an opportunity to work as a net bowler for Kolkata Knight Riders. So, he told us: ‘Don’t worry, a chance for me may come sooner or later.
“It came when Rajat Patidar was injured and the RCB drafted him to the squad. He was so happy because Vyaskh has always been an RCB fan and wanted to play for them. Now, he wants to show skills on this platform so that he can climb higher on the ladder,” says Vijay Kumar.
It is just the beginning, perhaps!