Shashikanth's all smiles about the Karnataka boys

Karnataka's coach P. V. Shashikanth reminisces his playing days; talks about Kerala; and is satisfied with his team's performance so far in the Ranji Trophy.

"It feels great to see my team winning all its first three matches this season,” said Karnataka coach P. V. Shashikanth.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

When Karun Nair made a historic triple hundred against England in Chennai last year, Kerala rejoiced. He is a Malayali, after all, what if he has played all his cricket for Karnataka.

Karun is, however, not the first Keralite to serve Karnataka with distinction. P. V. Shashikanth, whose family hails from Nileshwaram, played first class cricket for nearly a decade, and has had a distinguished career as a coach. He has trained players like Karun, K. L. Rahul, Manish Pandey, Abhimanyu Mithun and Mayank Agarwal, as the coach of Karnataka’s age-group teams.

This season, he was finally appointed the coach of the senior team and has helped Karnataka get off to a brilliant start in Ranji Trophy. The team has won all its three games so far.

READ: Karun Nair: 'I want to be better when I come back'

“Though I feel I could have been made the coach earlier, I am glad that the job has come to me at last,” Shashikanth told Sportstar here on Saturday, shortly after Karnataka completed its innings victory against Maharashtra. Many of the boys in the team have worked with me earlier.”

He has a knack for spotting talent. “I was the one who advised S. Sreesanth to move to Bengaluru for training as I found him an extremely promising bowler,” he said. “He was so talented and it is unfortunate that he got into all those controversies.”

He said he was happy to see that Kerala was making rapid progress in cricket. “In my playing days, Kerala was a minnow in the Ranji Trophy. Now many young players are emerging and they are doing well as a team, too; there is good infrastructure, too. And I think it was a good decision by the Kerala Cricket Association to bring in Dav Whatmore as the coach.”

Looking back at his career as a batsman – he played in 51 first class games – he regretted not playing for the country, though he did get to face a South African attack that had Alan Donald and Lance Klusener. It was a match between Ranji Trophy champion Karnataka and touring South Africans at Kochi in 1996.

“The competition for the opener’s slot was very tough in my time,” he recalled. “K. Srikkanth, V. B. Chandrasekhar and W. V. Raman were all there then,” he recalled. He said he was happy that he could become a coach. “This was what I wanted to do once I finished playing cricket. And, of course, it feels great to see my team winning all its first three matches this season.”