Back-again Abhinav reflects on ‘learning curve’

From wilderness, back to limelight, it has been one heck of a journey for Tamil Nadu's Abhinav Mukund.

AbhinavMukund

Abhinav Mukund admitted he stopped enjoying the game at one point in his professional career.   -  S. Dinakar

Abhinav Mukund almost quit cricket four years ago. Something snapped in him and belief gave way to despair. Pushed to the brink, he pondered a different career. The Tamil Nadu opener then, following a conversation with a close friend, saw a sliver of hope and his resilience resurfaced. From wilderness, back to limelight, it has been one heck of a journey for him.

And he is still only 27. “I made my first-class debut in 2007 when I was 17. I have been around a long time, ten years, and people think I am older than what I am,” Abhinav laughed.

In a chat with Sportstar on Wednesday, Abhinav, who made a > return to the Indian squad for the Test against Bangladesh, revealed, “I had been dropped from the Tamil Nadu squad for the one-dayers in 2013 and I was dejected. I thought all my chances of playing for India were gone. There wasn’t anything to look forward to and I thought about giving up the game.”

A friend convinced him to change his mind. “After the talk, I realised that I had, subconsciously, stopped enjoying the game. I was setting myself goals and targets and all that was putting pressure on me.”

Abhinav added, “I needed to live the moment, not focus on numbers and begin relishing the game again. I had stopped doing that at some point. I did that again and it worked for me.”

'Hard climb'

Keeping his mind free and retaining his hunger for runs, Abhinav began notching up big scores again. “Once you are dropped, it is hard to come back. Since I was out of the State team, I had to get runs in the league, then the Buchi Babu tournament, start all over again. It’s a hard climb back, more so if you want to play for India again,” he said.

His last Test was against England at Nottingham in 2011. He failed in that match but had come up with scores of 48, 62 and 49 in his three preceding Tests, two of them on the tour of West Indies. He deserved a longer run with India but was back on the domestic circuit. “Life goes on, I have matured as a person and a player since then. In a way it was good that it [being dropped] happened. It has been a learning curve for me,” said Abhinav.

The recall back to the Test squad was well deserved. “I have waited a long time for my opportunity. If I get a break in the eleven, I will just go there and cherish the occasion.”

The trick is in the mind and Abhinav comprehends this.

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