Abhimanyu Easwaran starts training in Dehradun

To iron out mental clutter after the 2019-20 season, Abhimanyu speaks to Anustup Majumdar, Shahbaz Ahmed and V.V.S. Laxman for motivation.

Abhimanyu Easwaran had a quiet season with the bat for Bengal in the Ranji Trophy.   -  AP

Abhimanyu Easwaran went through an undulating path in the season gone by. He led Bengal to its first Ranji Trophy final in 13 years but his team lost to Saurashtra. His bat didn’t talk as it normally does.

The lockdown due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic helped him evaluate in retrospect. And after the Sports Ministry’s directive to resume training in sports complex and stadiums — albeit with strict restrictions and guidelines — the Bengal and India A batsman started warming up at his own centre, Abhimanyu Cricket Academy, in the foothills of Dehradun.

Uttarakhand has reported close to 470 COVID-19 cases. The situation in Dehradun is slightly better, compared to the other regions, with less than 20 cases as of Thursday afternoon.

Before picking up the bat, Abhimanyu had an online session with former India batsman V. V. S. Laxman, who is Cricket Association of Bengal’s batting consultant for the Vision Project. “We spoke about the season, things that I needed to work on. I told him whatever I was thinking throughout the season, also my first as captain so I had a few things to ask as well,” Abhimanyu told Sportstar.

The 24-year-old had had a stellar 2018-19 season, scoring 861 runs at an average of 95.66. There were talks that he could be the next Test opener for India. But he remained below 300 this time around.

Knowing it can happen to any player, he quickly reached out to his team-mates Shahbaz Ahmed and Anustup Majumdar for motivation. “They had a good season. I spoke to them on what they felt they did well this season. I thought it could help me. I asked Anustup on what he felt he did better as a batsman compared to other seasons. He played a couple of knocks which is probably a dream for any cricketer,” said Abhimanyu.

'A good break'

Abhimanyu had flown to Kolkata from Rajkot on March 14 to play a club game right after the Ranji final, but it got cancelled due to the virus scare. Then, he travelled to his Dehradun home and has been there since.

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“[It’s] unfortunate what’s happening in the world but personally, it is a good break to shift away from cricket for a while and focus on training. I got some time with my body and time to think about the game I was gymming and running initially, batting started very recently,” he said.

Abhimanyu provides his fitness and batting update to coach Apurva Desai through videos. He also talks to Bengal coach Arun Lal. “I am trying to break things down and work. He [Desai] keeps asking what I am working on these days, what I am doing at training sessions, the issues I felt in my body and my game. It is hard to get bowlers for net sessions but videos work,” he said.

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Abhimanyu hopes to return stronger for the 2020-21 season. “It’s an honour to lead Bengal as I have grown up and played all my cricket there. We didn’t have a good white-ball season, and then to come back and play the final in Ranji was a good experience. The learnings, good moments, beating good sides, coming back from tough situations help you grow as a player.”

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