‘I had stopped following cricket’

Back after a serious ACL injury, Abhishek Reddy is now a vital part of Karnataka’s plans in Ranji Trophy

Karnataka batsman Abhishek Reddy at the KSCA B ground on Monday.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

When he tore the anterior-cruciate-ligament in his right knee in the KPL last year, Abhishek Reddy did not think he would walk again. He underwent surgery, spent a few weeks on crutches, and endured months of painful frustration wondering if he still had a future in cricket. But as Karnataka prepares for its opening Ranji Trophy fixture this season, Reddy is back on the field, with the smile firmly back on his face.

“It feels good to be back with Karnataka,” the 23-year-old said at the KSCA-B ground here on Monday. “I was out of action for eight months. I didn't touch the bat in that time. I stopped following cricket so that I wouldn't feel desperate. When the injury happened I never thought I could even walk again. But the way I have progressed...”

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And he has progressed. In July this year, Reddy announced his return with a 193-ball-201 in the Safi Darashah Trophy and followed it up with an unbeaten 155 in the Dr. (Capt.) K. Thimmappiah Memorial tournament, where he tallied 325 runs from four innings.

“There's so much of competition in Karnataka. So when I was batting on 75 overnight in the Safi Darashah Trophy, my first target was to get a century, to feel that I belong there. As soon as I got to a hundred, I thought, ‘Let me not throw it away. Let me make up for the eight months I have lost,’” he said.

A confident top-order batsman, Reddy had played four first-class matches for Karnataka in 2015 and looked set for a long run in the team ahead of the 2016-17 domestic season before injury struck. “It was very frustrating,” he said. “I'm a person who likes to be outdoors, play matches...For 10 years I had been playing cricket every day. And suddenly to not touch my bat and stay in one single room without even walking and being on crutches was tough. The challenge for me was to kill the eight months and do rehab work every day, which was painful.”

Reddy used the time, instead, to do other things, like completing his BBA degree. “Now I feel the injury was a break for me. I'm much stronger mentally. I was even able to write my exams. I look at it as a blessing in disguise.”