After dream debut, Akshay ready for Saurashtra challenge

The Kerala left-arm spinner gears up for the second first-class match of his career after a match-winning hand for his team earlier this month.

K. C. Akshay took nine wickets in his debut against Jammu & Kashmir.   -  Special Arrangement

A homecoming of sorts it was for K.C. Akshay earlier this month at Thiruvananthapuram. He celebrated that in style too, picking up nine wickets on his debut in first-class cricket.

Akshay is delighted that he could play a leading role in Kerala’s victory against Jammu & Kashmir in a crucial match. “Of course, I wasn’t hoping get nine wickets,” Akshay told Sportstar. “I would have been happy to finish with five or six wickets.”

The 21-year-old ended up with match figures of nine for 58. Five of those wickets came in the second innings.

He said he was happy that he could make his Ranji debut at the St. Xavier’s College Ground, Thumba. “The wicket there is very familiar to me, having played and trained there for a few years,” he said. “I knew how the wicket would behave. I was delighted to get a kind of pitch that suited my bowling.”

‘Early’ call-up

Though he was born and brought up in Kozhikode, he has played most of his cricket in Thiruvananthapuram, after joining the Kerala Cricket Association’s academy there as a schoolboy. He was asked to join the team after another left-arm spinner and namesake Akshay Chandran was sent for remodelling his bowling action.

“I was in Wayanad, with the Under-23 team, when the call came,” he said. “Though I was dreaming of a Ranji Trophy debut, I hadn’t imagined that it would come this early.”

Looking back at the match, he said his focus was to bowl tightly and quicker through the air. “I was confident that I would get enough assistance from the Thumba wicket,” he said. “It is nice to reflect that we would be playing the next match, against Saurashtra, at the same venue.”

One of the bowlers he admires most is a Saurashtrian, Ravindra Jadeja, who would of course not be playing Kerala, since he is part of the Indian team for the Kolkata Test against Sri Lanka. Akshay’s favourite, though, is Daniel Vettori.

Akshay sees himself as more of an all-rounder. “I have scored a hundred for the Kerala Under-23 team and have been working hard on my batting,” he said. “It was former Kerala batsman Sreekumar Nair who advised me to concentrate on batting when he was the Under-19 coach.”

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