Simply getting a chance to play for an Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise is an important goal for young Indian cricketers nowadays, since many a player has become an overnight star with a good showing in the annual Twenty20 tournament.
However it is a chance that Andhra Pradesh batsman Ricky Bhui had to wait longer for than most. First bought by the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 2014 auction, Bhui finally made his IPL bow for the side in 2018.
Playing just the one match in 5 seasons might be disheartening for some but the 22-year old revealed to CricketNext that the team management had been grooming him over the last few seasons to give him the best chance of succeeding.
“In 2014 I came into the squad directly from the U-19 level and team management told me back then that I had plenty of potential that I would be able to fulfill in a few years’ time,” he said.
“(Team mentor) VVS Laxmar sir and (head coach) Tom Moody have been really helpful and encouraging with me throughout the years and they have put a lot of trust in me. This season I hope I can be a part of the playing XI and help the team do well.”
Since its launch in 2008, the IPL has seen a number of young Indian players announce themselves to the world.
However, there have also been some promising players who have struggled under the bright lights.
Bhui – who scored a century on List A debut for Andhra Pradesh and followed it up with a half-century in his T20 debut – admits he is better prepared now to make an impact in the tournament than he was in 2014.
“If I had gotten a chance to play in the IPL earlier in my career and I didn’t perform well, the story would have been very different. But if you’re fully prepared for it then you give yourself a better chance to succeed.
“A lot has changed for me in the past few years. I’ve played more domestic cricket and I have runs behind me; from my side I am now fully prepared to make a mark should the opportunity arise.”
Indeed he was the highest scorer for Andhra Pradesh in the 2018/19 Ranji Trophy season, getting 775 runs in 8 matches at an average of 59.61, including 4 centuries and a sole half-century.
He also topped the charts for his team during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as well, getting 236 runs in 6 matches and even scoring a 38-ball ton against Nagaland, besides getting a half-century against Manipur.
But while his form has filled him with confidence, Bhui admitted that he has stepped up his preparation for the tournament in anticipation of going up against the best players the world of cricket has to offer.
“IPL is a much different set-up altogether and obviously it can’t be compared to domestic cricket since we get to go up against the best of the best in the IPL.
“My preparations have been more intense lately but I have been scoring runs so I am confident heading into the tournament.”
Bhui also admitted that picking up crucial tips from David Warner – who captained the side during their 2016 title-winning run – as well as current captain Kane Williamson have helped him considerably over the past few years.
“I have had plenty of conversations both Williamson and Warner in practice and during the nets on how they approach the game and how they think in certain game situations.
“They also offer small pointers on how to mentally prepare for games. Being around so many great international players has helped me get to know my game better,” he signed off.
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