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'I have been brought up to take on challenges'

Ashish Magotra in Chennai | September 18, 2003 10:52 IST

Aavishkar Salvi, a bowler who can not only generate pace and movement but also bowl accurately, has been touted by some as an India prospect.

Aavishkar SalviIt was the 21 year-old's performance in the 2002-03 Ranji season, when he claimed 28 wickets in six matches, that caught the national selectors' attention.

Salvi's rise thereafter has been sudden. Soon he was playing for India 'A' in the West Indies. A good performance there saw him find a place in the team for the tri-nation tournament in Dhaka in April.

But Salvi is still the quiet, unassuming chap his teammates have come to like and respect. "Ever since Dhaka, I have been hearing people talk about me as a very good bowler," he says. "I take that as a compliment and the only way to return the compliment is to perform and deliver."

Salvi took to cricket at 18, an age at which most youngsters usually reach a fork where they have to decide between the game and an alternative career or studies. Hence, his outlook towards the game is different from that of his peers. "I don't buckle under pressure," he says. "I have been brought up to take on challenges."

In fact, even taking up cricket was a challenge for the lad. He was studying for a diploma in chemical engineering when the call for the Mumbai under-19 side came. At that point he needed to decide which way to go. "My family told me that I can either play cricket or study," he remembers. "My parents gave me two years to prove myself at the highest level or I could go back to my studies."

A determined Salvi took up cricket with a vengeance. At first, the results were not very encouraging. But a 21 day coaching camp under former England fast bowler Frank Tyson set that right. To this day, Salvi swears by Tyson.

"The camp with Frank Sir was the turning point of my career," he says. "After that camp I was a changed bowler. My action, the accuracy, and my consistency; all improved vastly. I think Frank Tyson is the best bowling coach I have seen."

Salvi is also indebted to former Mumbai skipper Paras Mhambrey, who nurtured him in his early years with the team. Mhambrey knew eactly what the problem was with Salvi. Slowly but surely, with the help of several drills, the young paceman began to improve.

"Paras," says Salvi, "is very good. He can read your mind and he has great knowledge about fast bowling. He pointed out that I was not using my front arm while bowling and as a result was not bowling to my full potential. I think after Frank Sir he is the best coach around."

As yet, Salvi has only played limited-overs internationals for India. He is in the reckoning for a place in the Test team, but you never know how long that might take.

"I consider one-day cricket a lottery," says Salvi. "Anything can happen. Test matches are the real cricket. You have the opportunity to show off your skills. If you have a bad session you can go and work it out. It tests your character."

Indian bowlers have long been accused of lacking the killer instinct. But the new breed of fast bowlers, Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, are as aggressive as can get. Salvi is similar, but with an important difference. He prefers to think his opponents out.

"Mental rehearsal is very important before play," he explains with a maturity beyond his years. "You have to have several plans in place before you enter the field. If one plan doesn't work you should be prepared to fall back on plan 2. Sometimes you fail, despite you best efforts. But that is all part of the game."

The sky is the limit for this paceman who, no matter what happens on the field, goes back to his room at the end of the day and thinks about his game. The pride and determination in him to do well are so evident that they need no telling.

Salvi's strongest suit is, without doubt, his self-confidence. He believes in himself and his ability. "When I first started playing cricket, I decided I wanted to play for Mumbai," he says. "After achieveing that goal, I decided I want to play for India. Now, I want to represent India for 10-12 years or for as long as I remain fit."

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