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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Nitish ready to win 'respect for father' in India jersey

Nitish ready to win 'respect for father' in India jersey

Source: PTI
June 25, 2024 03:54 IST
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'I want to see respect for my father in the eyes of those who once tore him to shreds for believing in my talent.'

Nitish Reddy

IMAGE: Nitish Reddy was a key player for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2024, scoring 303 runs in 13 matches, at a strike-rate of 142. Photograph: BCCI

As a 12-year-old, Nitish Reddy was witness to the criticism his father Mutyalu faced for quitting his job to ensure his son's cricket doesn't get affected.

On Monday, when he received his maiden call-up to India's T20I squad for the tour of Zimbabwe, the 21-year-old Andhra all-rounder felt that he has achieved only 50 percent of his goal to make his "Nanna" proud.

 

"Getting into the Indian team is a proud feeling but it is only 50 percent of the dream. It will be fulfilled if I can wear that jersey and win matches for my country. I want to see respect for my father in the eyes of those who once tore him to shreds for believing in my talent," an emotional Reddy said.

Hailing from a middle-class family in Visakhapatnam, Reddy started attending cricket camps from the age of nine, but it was when he was 12 that his father, an employee with the central government enterprise, was transferred to Rajasthan as the division shifted from his city.

"My father enquired and found out that the city we were supposed to live wasn't great for the development of my game. My father decided to quit after talking to my mom. He got around Rs 20 lakh as final payout and decided to start a money lending business. As luck would have it, some of his close friends duped him and he lost his entire earnings," narrated Reddy, on the most horrifying phase of his life.

"Everyone from every corner pounced on him for losing his earnings from service after quitting the job. In our part, relatives, neighbours were never convinced that someone should quit his job to further his son's ambitions.

"I could hear those discussions even as a 12-13 year-old. I understood everything. It was a promise I made to myself that only one thing can redeem my dad's prestige: an India call-up."

While bat sponsors do come once players make a name at least at the Umder-19 state level, the initial days after his father's business loss led to acute fund crunch.

"Would you believe that at start of my junior level competitive cricket, I had only one bat per season. It's not as costly as it is now but a good English willow would still cost a few grand. The wood would chip off the edge, cracks would appear at the sweet spot. I would tape the areas and carry on," he said, the pain palpable in his voice.

After scoring 303 runs in 13 matches, at a strike-rate of 142 along with three wickets in this year's IPL campaign for SRH, things have changed.

"The relatives and neighbours, who back then were critical, now want us to come to their place and praise my father for taking such a risk," he laughs.

Worked with side-arm specialists after Emerging Trophy

Nitish Reddy

IMAGE: At 20 years and 319 days, Nitish Reddy was the second youngest player to score a half-century during IPL 2024. Photograph: BCCI

In 2023, when the national selectors were looking for a pure all-rounder, who could be Hardik Pandya's back-up, they zeroed in on Reddy and sent him with India’s Under-23 squad to Sri Lanka for the Emerging Trophy.

"I was a bit de-motivated after that tournament. I was dropped after a couple of games and I didn't get to bat and show my skills. When you have these games which people are following, it is important to showcase your skills.

"Even in the 2023 IPL, I played the last two games for SRH and didn't get a chance to bat. Once I came back from Sri Lanka I increased my practice hours.

"I started spending more time at the nets and also hired a few side arm specialists (throwdown) available in Vizag and practised for a month. They were all sending the ball at 145 clicks and initially I found it hard. Then, by the end of the month, I got adjusted. That practice went a long way when I played the IPL this season where I could hit sixes," said the player, who hit 21 sixes in 13 games, coming in as a finisher.

"The six I hit against CSK gave me a lot of confidence in my batting. As far as my bowling is concerned, the endeavour is to hit consistent lines and work on my body and rhythm to may be increase pace by another 3-4 kmph."

Indebted to Klaasen, Bhuvi

His Sunrisers Hyderabad skipper Pat Cummins had simple advice for him.

"You are a good all-rounder who should use IPL to perform well and gain as much experience as possible," the World Cup-winning Aussie skipper advised him.

"But two seniors at SRH who really gave some good technical pointers are Heinrich Klaasen and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Klaasen told me about match situation and shot selection. All his points were technical and it has helped my power game."

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