Indian Premier League is a boon in the 21st century as it has given so many players to Indian cricket till date. It’s a platform for Indian domestic cricketers where they can play with international stars and impress selectors and coaches. The IPL-10 auction has given many of these players that chance to go one step forward in their cricketing career. Mohammad Siraj and Thangarasu Natarajan are the prime examples of it. Their stories are inspirational. Just like them, a cricketer named Shubham Agarwal who plays for Chhattisgarh in the domestic circuit has been selected by Gujarat Lions in IPL-10 auction went through torments to reach this level. Let’s not forget that this was the first year for Chhattisgarh in Indian domestic cricket.
“I was practicing when IPL auction was going on. Honestly, I was not sure whether I will be picked or not. I was not nervous at all. I live with my parents in Raipur and they told me that you are selected in The Gujarat Lions team for IPL-10 when I reached home at 3.30 pm. I did not believe them earlier.
“I confirmed it twice with them and then I started getting calls from my friends and coaches and then I believed and was on cloud nine literally. It’s a great opportunity for me and I will try to put my best foot forward,” Agarwal told Firstpost.
Agarwal was born in Raigarh, Chhattisgarh. He started playing cricket there at an early age of eight. Talking about his family, he said: “My father is a businessman and my grandfather was also a businessman. My father is a cricket lover so he wanted me to play cricket and become a cricketer. I started playing cricket in our house for two to three hours every day with a tennis ball. I later moved on to Baroda to for training with a season ball.”
Agarwal moved to Baroda in order to fulfill his father’s wish at a very young age. Cricketer always faces many hardships before playing for their country and Agarwal was no exception.
“I started playing cricket for fun. I lived alone in Baroda for seven to eight years and during those years I took my game seriously as I realized that I have the potential to become a cricketer. It was very difficult for me to motivate myself when I was not getting the call from Baroda Cricket Association, but my father was always there for me. He motivated me a lot and still motivates me. He has really been my strength over the years,” Shubham recalled.
The Gujarat Lions owner Keshav Bansal said after the IPL-10 auction that Agarwal is a find of Mohammad Kaif. The former Indian batsmen has been appointed an assistant coach of the Lions for IPL-10.
“I am very obliged that Keshav Bansal praised me. Basically, Kaif bhai knows me really well as I have played under him. He has always supported me on and off the field. He is like my father. I am still in-experienced but he has never created that environment where I feel like that. I am looking forward to playing under the guidance of him for Gujarat Lions in IPL-10,” said Agarwal when asked about how Kaif had helped him so far.
“I was not good at studies. So I always rated cricket more than my studies,” the youngster beamed.
Agarwal is a leg-spinner. He has played six List-A and five Twenty20 matches for Chhattisgarh so far and taken six and nine wickets respectively. He made his T20 debut against Uttar Pradesh at Jaipur in 2017 and his List-A debut was against Jharkhand at Kolkata last month in Vijay Hazare Trophy.
“Shane Warne is my idol as a leg-spinner. I tried to learn the slider delivery from him and I try to bowl it here and there. However, I believe in bowling traditional leg-spin more but flipper is my weapon,” the Chhattisgarh spinner added confidently.
“I was a batsman when I came to Baroda earlier who can bat at six or seven but then professionally I started bowling leg-spin under the guidance of coaches at Kiren More Sports Academy and from there on, I saw myself as a bowling all-rounder. Kiran More has aided me a lot. I played cricket for Kiran More Sports Foundation also. I got my real training in his academy,” said Agarwal.
There are many cricketers who have represented Indian cricket team from Baroda. When asked about his relationships with Pandya and Pathan brothers, he added: “Irfan Pathan has given me some valuable tips and shared his international experience with me whenever I had met him. Hardik Pandya and I were in the same academy since we were 13 and he is my best friend. He has also helped me in enhancing my game. He even congratulated me after I was selected in the Gujarat Lions team. I am happy for him especially the way he is playing now and I would like to do the same in future for Indian cricket team.”
Agarwal took six wickets from six matches in Vijay Hazare Trophy at an average of 30.33 and a strike rate of 29.3. On his List-A debut, he bowled against former Indian captain MS Dhoni who scored 129 runs in that match and Jharkhand won the match by 78 runs. Agarwal bowled five overs and conceded 36 runs without taking a wicket on a re-laid surface of Eden Gardens.
“MS Dhoni is my idol. I always wanted to be like him as he came from a small state. I was nervous when Kaif gave me an opportunity to bowl against him but it was a dream come true for me. It was probably the biggest challenge that I have faced in my short cricketing career.
I learnt a lot from my first Vijay Hazare Trophy. I have to be more consistent to sustain at this level. Hopefully, I will try to use this experience in future tournaments to help Chhattisgarh win more matches,” he added.
Talking about the biggest compliment that he has received so far in his career and future of Chhattisgarh cricket, he told: “In my first List-A match against Jharkhand, I met Dhoni after the match and I asked him that what I can do to improve my bowling and he told me that as a leg-spinner you bowled well on this track of Eden Gardens. He also told me that you need to be more consistent with your line and length and keep going. I really felt well at that time.
“Chhattisgarh cricket will move forward rapidly. There are many talented cricketers in Chhattisgarh. There were around ten players in this year’s IPL auction as well. It will definitely improve over the years.” Agarwal said
Speaking about playing domestic cricket for Baroda in near future, he said: “Chhattisgarh has given me so many opportunities in the first year itself. I will not consider playing for Baroda in near future. I just took my training there. I am quite happy to serve Chhattisgarh cricket as much as I can at the moment."
The Indian Premier League season-10 will start from 5 April at Hyderabad. Gujarat Lions will play their first match at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot against Kolkata Knight Riders on 7 April.
“I am excited to play for Gujarat Lions. I can’t wait for the moment. However, I would like to concentrate more on facing pacers and bowling consistently.” the elated Shubham Agarwal signed off by saying.