Gurbani: 'It all started from the game against Himachal'

The Vidarbha pacer, in a chat with Sportstar, gets talking on the dream season, his primitive days and how he achieved the turnaround after an unimpressive start in the season.

Vidarbha pacer Rajneesh Gurbani says, "This season has boosted my confidence and would take it as a positive. The target would be to improve my performance from here."   -  R.V. Moorthy

An inquisitive journalist asked Rajneesh Gurbani on Monday where would the team party after winning it's first-ever Ranji Trophy title. The soft-spoken young pacer smiled shyly and looked at his team coach Chandrakant Pandit to ask, "Sir, kidhar jaaye? (Sir, where do we go?)" The entire team laughed. 

This simplicity had been the key for Gurbani this season. From a modest beginning, Gurbani went on to scalp 39 wickets to become the second highest wicket-taker of the domestic season.

Read: Vidarbha pacer Gurbani called for trials by Mumbai Indians

A day after the Ranji Trophy win, Gurbani got talking with Sportstar.

Excerpts... 

Starting as just another rookie, you went on to become the second-highest bowler in the tournament, scalping 39 wickets. How would you rate this season?

It was my dream season, I never imagined that it would be so good. I brought in a few changes physically and mentally from last season, and also worked hard in the pre-season. All that helped me to do well. It feels good to have achieved success.

Now that everybody knows you, will that add to the pressure hereon? 

I don’t want to take pressure. This season has boosted my confidence and would take it as a positive. The target would be to improve my performance from here. If you start thinking too much about taking wickets in every match then the pressure certainly mounts up. There’s no need to do all that. This season has taught me to play freely. It’s just about playing your natural game. Work hard, and wickets will come if they have to. So, the focus should be on bowling good.

You also hold a degree in engineering. When you started, which one was more tough for you - clearing engineering examinations or cleaning up a batsman?

For me, engineering was toughest. Cricket has always been by passion, so hard work was never a factor. Even if you would ask me to bowl and field throughout the day, I would do that. I always enjoyed that more than engineering. Obviously there is pressure during match days. But even then, it is much easier than appearing for engineering examinations. That pressure is far more. In cricket, I am more excited about my performance.

Also read: Vidarbha clinches its maiden Ranji Trophy

There was a time when your parents had strictly told you that engineering should be your first priority. Do you think they should have told you that?

(Laughs) No. But that was always there. My family always told me to focus more on education and that’s what I have always done. My elder brother was from IIT-Kharagpur, so during low-times, I would feel, arey yeh kya kar raha hoon. That time, I would think that perhaps going to IIT could have been a better choice. I was studying engineering in Nagpur, because I wanted to play cricket.

How was it handling that phase?

My family would always support me that time, but I would think, what would happen if my cricketing career does not take off? I was there in the Ranji Trophy squad, but then the fear remained in the back of the mind. If you don’t play Ranji Trophy, then you can’t even get a job — that was something that bothered me always. I recently got a job at the Accountant General’s office. That has helped immensely.

Now as you look back, what do you think, was the turning point for you in this Ranji Trophy?

The match against Himachal Pradesh — where I took eight wickets in total — was the turning point. I did not have a great outing in the first two matches. Even though I was working hard, wickets were not coming my way. I was hoping for a start. The game against Himachal in Nagpur helped me bounce back. It all started from there.