Bengaluru, Oct 2: It was an unforgettable Friday for Sreenath Aravind's family as the Karnataka left-arm paceman made his international debut for India in the first Twenty20 International against South Africa in Dharamsala today.
Bengaluru boy Aravind, on Friday (October 2), became India's 56th T20I player. It was a remarkable journey for Aravind to the international stage after overcoming career-threatening injuries. (Centurion Rohit in elite list)
At 31 when most players give up hope of representing the country, a determind Aravind worked hard to don the India blue cap at the picturesque Himachal Pradesh Cricket Association (HPCA) stadium.
"It is a great feeling and we are extremely happy for Aravind. He has overcome 2 surgeries to make India debut today. He is a kind of cricketer who never gives up. His determination and hard work has paid off," Santosh Menon, who is Aravind's mentor right from a very young age, told OneIndia.
In 2011 when India won the ICC World Cup at home, Aravind made the ODI squad later that year (September), against England. However, he did not get a chance to play. In December same year, a knee injury kept him out of cricket, making it a mixed 2011 for the State Bank of Mysore employee.
During a match for Karnataka in Chennai in Buchi Babu tournament, Aravind collided with wicket-keeper KB Pawan resulting in a posterior cruciate ligament injury which required surgery in South Africa.
Aravind's cricket journey started as a 12-year-old at Bengaluru's Whirlwind Cricket Club. It was Menon and Aravind's uncle KB Sreekantha who guided the youngster. Later, at the Karnataka State Cricket Association's (KSCA) academy, Aravind blossomed under the coaching of Sanath Kumar, who is now in-charge of Assam team.
Sreekantha recalled how former India batsman and secretary of KSCA Brijesh Patel spotted Aravind at a 'net' session. Aravind comes from a cricket background with his father having represented the university as a batsman. The paceman's uncle Sreekantha too was an all-rounder.
Having won an India cap at 31, Aravind will be now aiming to cement his place and be a part of the side that goes into next year's ICC World Twenty20 2016 tournament at home.
What did Aravind say after his call-up to Team India?
"I was so happy and excited when I heard of this call-up. It has been a long journey and I was expecting this," Aravind told BCCI's official website.
"In 2011 it was very surprising for me. This time I was much more prepared. Since the last time, I have improved my bowling and worked really hard to get better as a bowler.
"Since the injury, I have improved my fitness levels, worked on my bowling action and in getting the right lengths. The work I have put into my fitness has also helped me add a couple of yards of pace in my bowling.
"Now I am much more experienced and I can handle the pressure in the right way. I have reached a place where I am mature enough to put all the pressure aside and focus on what needs to be done."
Learning from Zaheer Khan and Mitchell Starc
"I have played with Zaheer Khan as part of the RCB. I have learned many things from him as to what difference a left-arm pacer can make to the team. He kept it very simple. He always talked about bowling hard lengths and reading the batsman so you can be one-up against him. I also learned a lot from him in terms of forming different plans to counter each batsman based on his skills," the paceman told bcci.tv
"Mitchell Starc has been very helpful. The most important thing I've learnt from him was how to bowl yorkers effectively based on the wicket you are bowling on."
Facts on Sreenath Aravind
Born: April 8, 1984
Teams: Whirlwind Cricket Club, Vultures Cricket Club, Karnataka, Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mangalore United, Hubballi Tigers, India A, Karnataka Under-22, Under-22, South Zone
First-class matches: 41 (130 wickets)
List A: 25 matches (42 wickets)
Twenty20: 45 games (55 wickets)
# First-class debut in 2008 (At the age of 24)
# Part of Karnataka's Ranji Trophy winning sides
# Took a hat-trick against Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy in December 2014
# Took 44 wickets in Ranji Trophy 2014-15 season, playing a big role in title victory
# 8 wickets in 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL) for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB)
# With 21 wickets (13 matches), he was the highest wicket-taker for RCB in 2011 IPL