Kona Srikar Bharat is the only wicket-keeper with a Ranji Trophy triple century -- a 311-ball 308 for Andhra against Goa in the 2014-15 season. To carry his bat through an innings means much more to the 23-year-old than the milestones. A Test cap would be the ultimate prize though.
"It was as if I was in a trance, right from the hotel room,” he recalled the marathon endeavour on the sidelines of the Group C match against Himachal Pradesh at the KIIT Stadium on Friday. “I got into the zone, the focus on what lay ahead complete.”
Resting on his laurels is ruled out. "Unless you are among the runs almost all the time, you can be forgotten,” says the Visakhapatnam native of the unforgiving wilds of competitive cricket. “A career graph in the sport is like a heart beats, with ups and downs,” he philosophises.
His tasks are never easy, considering his vigil mustn’t ever wane behind the woodwork, either before he bats or after. The time lag between the roles is a mere 10 minutes, sometimes after donning the gloves for days. To date he has 14 stumpings and 99 catches to his credit in a 30-game journey.
“It’s one ball at a time, be it in batting or keeping. The vantage view from behind the stumps actually helps my batting, since I understand how the pitch behaves, the strokes batsmen play and where,” he observes. “I have no theory or set pattern for success, but the game’s about adapting each day and to each ball,” surmises the Youngsters CC regular in the TNCA league.
His tally last season was 22 dismissals and 541 runs, spiced up by centuries against Baroda and Gujarat. Satisfying it should be since they were garnered in the Elite set against high-flyers such as Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Rush Kaleria, Ramesh Powar and Yusuf Pathan.
After holding his own against the aforesaid gents, confidence has soared, making him hopeful of graduation to higher levels. “The Andhra Cricket Association sent us to the Mumbai league and perspectives change completely with such exposure,” he noted, richer by the experience.
The constant harping on ‘getting back to the basics’ had him confused. Till Andhra coach Sanath Kumar K shed light: Basics are not found in books but what come to you naturally. Little wonder then that the young man does his own thing in the middle.
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