Young pace bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti, whose career looked like it would be nipped in the bud due to a back injury that ruled him out for a couple of years, warmed up to top level cricket with 10 matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and more importantly lessons from world No.1 Australian Test bowler Pat Cummins in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp.
Cummins was IPL's most expensive buy at Rs.15.5 crore and his presence, as those of others like Dinesh Karthik and coach Brendon McCullum, helped 20-year-old Nagarkoti get valuable inputs.
"At the start, there was some nervousness as I was playing cricket after a long time. I was playing on the big stage and feeling pressure, but I spoke to experienced players on how to release pressure and how I can come out of it," Nagarkoti, who will leave for National Cricket Academy (NCA) in a few days told IANS from Jaipur.
In particular was Cummins's advice on the mental aspect of handling an injury. The 27-year-old Cummins himself suffered injuries in the early stage of his career. After making his Test debut in 2011, Cummins was out for over five years before returning in 2017.
"I asked Cummins how he had handled the injury phase. He told me it is not that you will always remain fit, but when a situation like that of an injury arises, the important part is how you remain positive. He said that if you have to play cricket at the highest level, no matter what problems you face in life, you have to remain positive. I got positive thoughts and vibes from Cummins and felt great," added Nagarkoti.
The right-arm pace bowler, who shot to limelight after cranking up speeds in excess of 140kph even in age-group cricket, said that the Aussie pace bowler and also the other seniors told him to prepare well.
"One advice I liked the most was that if a bowler prepares well, knows his plans, if he knows that he can bowl good deliveries and has practiced well enough, he won't have fear and will always approach a game positively. I was told to never think I will leak so many runs, or that I haven't bowled well enough. Whenever you bowl, you should know what your plans are, rest takes care on its own," added Nagarkoti.
Another lesson that he picked was to stick to the stock delivery when faced with tough situations. Nagarkoti's stock delivery is the outswinger from good length. He has picked most of his wickets in domestic cricket off that.
"Cummins also told me that I need to bowl the stock ball to get confidence or positivity back during tough times. It is the delivery that I will not leak runs with if I bowl. So that is always there on my mind. Whenever you leak runs, you have to focus on your stock ball. You always try," said Nagarkoti who is now learning to bowl leg-cutters and back-of-the-hand deliveries.
"I didn't learn skills on variations but spoke to him, he bowls the cutters well. I was asking him how you hold them, how you bowl them, so he told me how our different actions mean that we have to do it in our own different ways."
Nagarkoti added that while this wasn't a productive outing in terms of wickets -- he picked five scalps in 10 IPL matches -- he says he will do well in future. Prior to this, he had just played the DY Patil tournament immediately after returning from injury.
"I didn't have too many wickets but the next time when I get an opportunity, I will know how to get wickets and what kind of deliveries I have to bowl. Am also learning various deliveries. At the moment I am gradually increasing my workload. From four overs a day prior to IPL, which was T20 specific and ball-specific like yorkers or bouncers-only, I am now looking to bowl 8-10 overs a day."
Nagarkoti was expected to leave for Australia with the India squad as a net bowler but had to stay back as BCCI decided that his workload needs to be managed.
"I discussed with BCCI the number of overs I have bowled and how much I have to bowl further. The concern with the physio was that since it is a long series, with T20s, ODIs and days games, the workload will increase there. I still have to work on bowling longer spells gradually," he added.