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Gifted Ravi Teja looks for county experience to enhance his armoury

Kapil Dev, Jacques Kallis, Lance Klusener, Ben Stokes. What comes to your mind when these names are taken? An impression of how a proper all-rounder looks like. Well, since Kapil Dev’s retirement, the Indian team management has been on the prowl for a figure like the ones mentioned above, someone who can anchor the batting and is at par with his bowling skills. After numerous experiments, Hardik Pandya did fill in that void, somewhat, but his injury concerns has left the place wide open once again. A player who can bat consistently and also finds a name in the bowling department is a rare combination. 

However, as we speak of this rarity, there is someone in Hyderabad who is planning what to do in his next training session.

Playing for Hyderabad in the Indian domestic set-up, Ravi Teja is a cricketer with some vision. Hailing Virat Kohli as his inspiration, in an exclusive chat with OneCricket, Teja talks about his future plans, Hyderabad’s performance in Syed Mushtaq and Vijay Hazare Trophy and his favourite IPL team.

Hyderabad ended the Vijay Hazare Trophy with three wins and 12 points under their belt in five games. Talking about the performance, Ravi hailed the team’s potential and said the players do have the calibre to perform well in the future. 

“We had a decent tournament. We have a young team and there is a lot of potential in the players to do well. The game against Gujarat didn’t go in our favour while we gave away a lot of runs against Baroda. Otherwise, we were pretty satisfied with the kind of performance we had.”

Comparing the Vijay Hazare and SMAT performances, Teja added that the batsmen played fearless cricket in Vijay Hazare tournament. “We fared pretty well in Vijay Hazare. We were able to handle pressure in a better way in comparison to SMAT. Moreover, the batsmen played some fearless cricket.”

The Vijay Hazare Trophy has seen heaps of runs being scored during the course. Players like Devdutt Padikkal, Tanmay Agarwal and Prithvi Shaw have been among runs. When asked about the pitches, the 26-year-old did admit that the tracks have been batting friendly. 

“The pitches are pretty flat and the batsmen are getting some help from it, especially who play in the top order. It is really difficult to keep a batsman silent and put a halt on the run flow,” he said. 

“The only way to stop the run flow is to pick wickets. A fall of wickets gets a new man in which can eventually help in stopping the run flow. Moreover, the rule of having two fielders outside the 30-yard circle in the first 10 overs has also been helpful for the batsmen in getting runs. The only way to stop runs is by picking wickets,” he added. 

Teja also talked about the use of two new balls in one day format and explained how this hasn’t worked for the bowlers. 

“The use of two new balls has also made it difficult for bowlers. We don’t really get that reverse swing easily. Earlier, the ball used to get old and there was some reverse swing on offer. Now, the batsmen have tweaked the tactics as well. If they score 40 odd runs in the first 10 overs, they are pretty fine with it. The ball doesn’t grip. Apart from this, the conditions also differ here. If you are playing somewhere in New Zealand or England, you might get some help early in the morning but here the conditions are different,” the right-arm bowler explained. 

“We ourselves almost chased down 346. We lost that match by just two runs while chasing 345. The pitch totally became flat and batting friendly and having five fielders inside the circle helped as well. Chasing 300-350 is pretty easy these days.” 

Tilak Varma has been among the top run-scorers in this Vijay Hazare Trophy. He scored 391 runs in 5 matches at an average of 97.75. Hailing the youngster, Teja said that he is someone to watch out for in the future. “Tilak Varma is one player who is a proper India material. He can go and play at the highest level. He is surely someone to watch out for.”

When asked about whether he focuses more on batting or bowling, the Hyderabad cricketer said that his bowling had been a bit off earlier and he wanted to be more economical. 

“I am an all-rounder and have been scoring runs in domestic tournaments. Bowling was a bit off so I focused on it this time and I’m getting results. I was economical in SMAT as well.” 

The IPL mini auctions were held in Chennai in February. In a discussion about the tournament, the left-handed batsman revealed that he did have a chat with VVS Laxman last year and the SRH franchise was keeping a close watch on him.

“I had a chat with Punjab Kings earlier. Apart from that Laxman Sir told me that SRH management was keeping a close watch on me. But I didn’t get picked and that’s how it is. I don’t really have a problem with that. I don’t want to run after the IPL rather I want to perform in the domestic circuit and make a name for myself. Everyone wants to play for India and I have the same aim. Someone like Hanuma Vihari performed in the domestic circuit and got selected for India. I would like to travel the same path. IPL does give you an opportunity to showcase your talent but if it is not there, we still need to be focused. I want to play for Hyderabad and win matches for the team now. I even want the youngsters to follow this route of playing and performing for the state teams.”

Teja also talked about his favourite IPL team and whom he looks up to for inspiration. “I would like to play for RCB. I admire Virat Kohli for his fitness and get inspired from his fitness regimes. I in fact started carrying my own food to Ranji Trophy matches whenever I could. One more reason that I would like to be a part of RCB is that I go and train in Bengaluru during the off-season so I’m pretty connected to the city. Moreover, I’m an all-rounder and I fit into the scheme. It is pretty difficult to find a combination of batting in top order and also bowl with the new ball in India,” he said. 

The world came to a standstill last year after COVID-19 outburst. The sporting events were put to halt and there was no cricket happening either. Talking about that time, Teja said that it made him really strong mentally. 

“Honestly, I trained the most during the COVID-19. I used to have training sessions and had equipment at my home. I used to go for early morning running. This was the time when I became stronger mentally,” he said.

The all-rounder further explained his future plans. “I will take a week’s break and then begin with my training again. I would have a batting specific training. I’m training with TK Dilip. I would also have focus on my bowling. I want to increase my pace, bowl in good areas and improve on my economy. Other than this I’m also thinking of going and playing in the county. I had a chat with Yorkshire. There are 2nd division tournaments there. I can  have the county experience. I would get the experience about the pitch and conditions and how I have to play in those conditions.”

“I also had a chat with Mohammad Azharuddin and he told me that I should play as many matches as I can. This would help me get more experienced about the game,” Teja concluded.

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