Kamlesh Nagarkoti became a household name after starring in India U19’s World Cup win in 2018 under the captaincy of Prithvi Shaw and guided by then-coach Rahul Dravid.
Nagarkoti, who hails from Rajasthan and plays for the state team in domestic cricket, impressed one and all by clocking over 90mph for a 17-year-old in the said tournament and there were high hopes from the youngster.
Expectations became higher after Nagarkoti was picked up by the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL 2018 auction for a sum of Rs 3.20 crores and everyone was eager to see the youngster unleash his pace in the IPL tournament.
Unfortunately, the right-arm pacer suffered a debilitating back injury and was ruled out of the IPL 2018 tournament. He continued to struggle with one injury after another and then the rehab process and missed the IPL 2019 tournament as well.
He finally made his T20 debut for Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL 2020 in the UAE and was also named as one of the four additional bowlers to travel with the India team to Australia on their 2020-21 tour, but had to withdraw in order to manage his workload.
Thus far, the pacer from Barmer, Rajasthan, has played 9 List-A games and picked 11 wickets, which includes the first-ever hat-trick by Rajasthan bowler which came against Gujarat in a Vijay Hazare Trophy match. He also has 5 wickets from 11 T20 matches. He is handy with the bat as well, scoring 131 runs in 9 List-A matches with a best of 56*.
Kamlesh Nagarkoti will be seen in action for the Kolkata Knight Riders when the IPL 2021 will resume in UAE from 19 September.
In an exclusive chat with Ms. Ishan Yadav Mahal, Digital Head of Circle of Cricket, Kamlesh Nagarkoti touched upon the topics like his battle with injuries, the influence of Rahul Dravid, his favorite bowlers, and experience about playing in the IPL for KKR and his transition from a tennis ball bowler to a proper fast bowler at the national level.
Here’s the excerpt of the interview:
Q. How did the first half of IPL 2021 go by your own expectations and what would you like to correct in the second half of the season in UAE?
A. “I think the first half of the IPL 2021 didn’t go well for both me and the team. Therefore the focus is to be well prepared whenever the IPL resumes and everyone gives their 100%, whenever they get a chance. As for me, I have also focused on doing well for the team whenever I get a chance to perform. I will also try to rectify my mistakes so that I can perform well for my team.”
Q. After the highs of helping India win the U-19 World Cup, the journey has been a bumpy one for you with injuries. Can we safely say that phase is now behind you?
A. “I think injuries are part and parcel in a sportsperson’s life and how you overcome it and do hard work becomes more important. And I had in my mind to work on the weakness and get better and stronger. I want to be fit so that whenever I get chances and opportunities, I grab it with both hands. And I want to represent my country as soon as possible.”
Q. Clocking 88-90 mph at a young age is not an easy thing, were you always brisk or did you work on adding pace as you went along in your cricketing journey?
A. “When I used to play with a tennis ball, I used to bowl very fast and everybody was amazed that I was bowling so fast. I also believed in my mind that I can bowl very fast. But when I switched to the leather ball, it was difficult to bowl as it is a bit heavier and also has a seam, and I didn’t have an idea on how to hold it and bowl.
But my coach Surinder Singh Rathod taught me everything and worked hard on me and refined my action and everything. And the credit for me bowling so fast with a leather ball should go to my coach.”
Q. The 2018 batch of India U-19 has gone on to produce several quality cricketers. Would you credit Rahul Dravid for being there with you all at an important time in your career?
A. “Definitely yes, when Rahul Dravid Sir was with us, we got to learn a lot. All players at a young age want to learn as much as they can and experience whatever they can and I don’t think there was anyone better than Dravid Sir else we wouldn't have learned so much and performed as we did.
Because his way of teaching us and the way he made us practice, was of the highest quality and we learnt a lot. And it's not like we only used to play cricket, we also used to have fun and everything. So when in life you know how to do everything and maintain a balance between practicing and having fun, all these things were taught to us by Dravid Sir and we benefitted a lot and it was a great learning experience.”
Q. Growing up who were your favorite fast bowlers and have you been able to meet any of them for a one-on-one chat yet?
A. “My favorite bowlers from starting have been Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami. I have been watching them and I love watching them bowl. I had a talk with both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami in NCA, and I asked them about how they prepare for a match.
They were kind enough to share things with me and tell me what I should do and what I shouldn’t do. Both of them are extremely humble and I got to learn a lot from them. Most importantly they are doing so well for the country and it is a proud moment for us that they are in the Indian team and I want them to keep performing excellently and help India win matches.”
Q. You seem to enjoy batting and fielding as well, how much importance do you give to those aspects of your cricket?
A. “For me, both batting and fielding are very important, like it is with my bowling. I considered these two important as well because when you want to become a cricketer, you need to have all qualities in you and whenever the team requires you, you should be ready to contribute in any aspect of the game.
Therefore I prepare well for all three, and equally practice all three of the batting, bowling, and fielding every day. At the present, I am working more on my batting as I want to become a proper all-rounder for Team India and represent my country as an all-rounder.”
Q. How has IPL influenced you, sharing the dressing room with some of the biggest names and playing against international cricket's greats?
A. “I think I am lucky that I am playing under Dinesh Bhaiya and there is Eoin Morgan, Sunil Narine, Pat Cummins. Because they have never made us feel that we are juniors and have always respected us. They are always ready to sort out any problems we have and are always available to help us. So it has been a wonderful experience so far playing with all of them.
I have learnt a lot of things like handling pressure and how to play in certain situations. I am looking forward and hoping that I get another chance and I do well for the team.”
Q. Most cricketers have few dreams and goals. Do you have them too, and would you like to share them with our readers?
A. “Yes, my dream is to represent my country and also play under Virat Bhaiya's captaincy. This is my biggest dream. And also I want to become India's best all-rounder and I am working hard for it. I'll do whatever it takes and will do my best to achieve my goal.”