Karnataka veteran Vinay Kumar, surprisingly, did not find any takers at the Indian Premier League auctions this year. Kumar, who has 105 wickets from as many IPL games at an economy rate of 8.39, won the tournament with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014.
After leading Karnataka to a narrow four-wicket win against Chhattisgarh at the Barabati stadium in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Kumar expressed disappointment over his IPL snub and reflected on the highs and lows of Karnataka's season.
READ | Vinay Kumar cameo helps Karnataka edge a thriller
None of the IPL teams bid for you at the auction this year. What do you think went wrong?
Before the 2018 IPL began, I was KKR's go-to bowler in the nets as well as all the practice games. But once the season started, I got only two matches where I was asked to bowl the first and the 20th over. It's a very challenging ask to bowl an over each at the start and at the death.
So if people made up their minds after watching me in just two matches, then I don't know what to say. I am still hopeful of a call-up because it's a long tournament and some niggles here and there to some player might open the door for me.
Do you feel holding Syed Mushtaq before the auctions, as was the norm for last three seasons, could have helped your case?
It should have been held before the IPL auctions but due to a crammed schedule, that wasn't possible. Look, I have been a consistent performer in the IPL, so it was disappointing to not get picked. I feel there is plenty of cricket still left in me. In KPL (Karnataka's domestic T20) last year, I took six wickets at an economy rate of around five (5.21) and scored over 100 runs (116) at a good strike-rate (152.63) too.
How has Karnataka's season been so far?
We have done pretty well. The team played brilliantly in Vijay Hazare but unfortunately couldn't qualify. In Ranji Trophy, we made it to the semis and now in Syed Mushtaq, we have strung together five wins on the trot. There were ups and downs but it has been a thorough team performance thus far.
RELATED | Manoj Tiwary: I have a point to prove after IPL snub
A word on Manish Pandey's maiden stint as full-time captain?
Manish is doing really well as skipper. See, once you are appointed the leader of the side and you start performing well yourself, then you are setting the right example. That way, he has ticked the right boxes.
Has the introduction of first-timers from North East diluted the quality of cricket on display?
I don't think so. If you see sides like Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh, they have a few good players in their squads. And if they can add a couple of quality guest cricketers, it can enhance their performance. It'll lift the morale of the whole team.