Mumbai Indians’ recent star Kumar Kartikeya’s story is the perfect example of how toil put in with honesty never fails to pay back. From a nobody who failed to make ends meet to making his name known to the world by staking a spot in the world’s most successful T20 League, Kartikeya is finally reaping the rewards of the countless yards he put in to make it happen.
The left-arm wrist-spinner made his IPL debut against the Rajasthan Royals and impressed the experts and fans alike with his bucketload of variations. He returned with figures of 1/19 in his quota, dismissing the Royals’ skipper Sanju Samson as his maiden wicket, although what stood was his confidence of trying as many variations successfully right in his debut game. Kartikeya, a son of a constable, had moved from Kanpur to Delhi as a 15-year-old, promising his family that he won’t add to their financial burden. After knocking on the doors of many academies that demanded fees he could not afford, the youngster found Sanjay Bharadwaj, who agreed to train him for free upon learning his dire situation.
However, that was not the end of a young Kartikeya’s struggle, as he employed himself in a village factory located a massive 80 km away from Bharadwaj’s academy. Working there for the entire night, he would walk to the academy to save expenditure on the commute and use it to purchase some biscuits instead. Upon learning about his misery, Bharadwaj offered him a sharing accommodation with the academy’s cook. “When the cook gave him lunch, Kartikeya began to cry; he hadn’t eaten lunch for a year,” Bhardwaj, who has coached the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Amit Mishra, said. When Kartikeya could not make it to DDCA trials despite bagging heaps of wickets at the local tournaments, coach Bharadwaj decided to move him to Madhya Pradesh, where his impressive performances at the trials were rewarded with a Ranji debut even without playing any age-level cricket for the state.
“Looking at his ability and dedication, I sent him to my friend and secretary of Shahdol Cricket Association Ajay Dwivedi,” Bharadwaj told. “He played division cricket there and took 50-plus wickets in his first two years.” “Whenever he is free, he starts bowling in the nets. Many a time he comes back from matches in Indore late in the night and gets the lights on and spends the next two-three hours in the nets. His obsession has only grown in the last nine years,” Bhardwaj added. Having stormed into an IPL franchise renowned for its scouting mastery, Kartikeya’s moment seems to have finally arrived.