Having made his first-class debut at a tender age of 15, Ankeet Bawane is a batting superstar in India’s domestic circuit today. He plays for Maharashtra and averages 53.38 in 82 first-class games.
At first, Bawane had grabbed the headlines back in 2012-13 domestic season by averaging over 60 with five half-centuries on the trot. Since then he hasn't looked back as the impressive performances continued to come in the following years.
In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Bawane recently reflected on his journey and how he has changed his methods over the years.
"Earlier I used to mentally prepare myself three months in advance, eagerly awaiting the start of the domestic season. Now with a India A matches, I just have to go through my routine and processes. And when the match comes, react to the ball," Ankeet Bawane said.
Despite performing well in last year’s Ranji Trophy (395 runs at 43.9) and Vijay Hazare Trophy (306 runs at 61.2), Bawane was overlooked by the franchises in the IPL auction. Although he was disappointed but later on realized that it is not the end of the world.
"It was surely disappointing. It was a good season for me but Syed Mushtaq Ali hadn't gone well. At the back of my mind, I knew I may not get selected. It was of course disappointing because it's a big platform, everyone is watching. But at the same time, it isn't the end of the world either. For a few hours you feel bad but then you get over it," Bawane asserted.
He recently toured England with India A and featured in quite a few four-day matches. Playing for India A, Ankeet didn’t get the big scores but he isn't disappointed with his performances. Bawane believes the exposure of playing at a higher level has only improved his game.
"In A matches, if you notice, teams aren't scoring 500-600. The scores are around 250-350. In that if I'm scoring 60s, 80s, the satisfaction is different," Bawane stated.
Talking about his 91 against Australia A in September, where he added 147 runs with the lower order, Bawane said: "That aspect of my game has evolved. It's a tough art. Not only do you have to look after your own batting but also that of your partner. Batting higher, you are only concerned about your batting. You have to see how many balls to give your partner, which bowler should I let him face etc."
Although Bawane has 24 domestic hundreds to his name, but it is his 18-ball 28* against Australia A in the recent fixture that he cherishes the most. After being reduced to 11 for 3, India A were needing 55 in the last 8 overs when Ankeet Bawane exhibited a great deal of composure under pressure. It was the same innings which earned him praise from the legendary Rahul Dravid.
"As a batsman you love challenges and when you perform in challenging conditions, it's a different joy. Rahul [Dravid] sir also appreciated me after that for showing character and calmness under pressure. He hadn't praised me as much even when I had scored a century. Such innings helps you build that confidence, makes you a better cricketer," Bawane concluded.