Flair and focus — the R. Vivek story

There was a period when he lacked money to buy a bat. The 27-year-old from Salem has since defied the odds to make his presence felt at the TNPL.

Budding star: In the TNPL, R. Vivek has 195 runs so far at a sizzling strike-rate of 216.66, way beyond anyone else’s.   -  R. Ragu

Hard times steel your resolve. Then, unexpected pathways open up. At the heart of it are ability and desire.

There was a period when he lacked money to buy a bat. The basic cricketing gear seemed a luxury. Yet he played under the heat and the dust of the makeshift roads in the districts. All for the love of the game. On days when he was able to borrow a willow, he could strike the ball long distances. Then things changed.

R. Vivek’s knocking-the-cover-off-the-ball act was spotted by Subramania Siva, a TNCA first division cricketer, who took him to Swaraj CC. There, Vivek was nurtured by former India off-spinner M. Venkataramana.

This season Vivek, essentially used as a floater in the line-up, has been on fire in the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). He has 195 runs so far at a sizzling strike-rate of 216.66, way beyond anyone else’s. Add to all this his solid average of 65.00.

Vivek is a Salem boy who moved to Thanjavur for work. Then TNPL happened and Vivek was lapped up by Dindigul Dragons.

‘Extremely focussed’

Not young at 27, Vivek nevertheless has immense possibilities for the game’s shorter format. Dragons’ coach M. Venkataramana said, “He is extremely focussed. We have been having specific drills for him to improve his repertoire. Vivek has been responding very well.”

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Venkataramana kept a close eye on Vivek when he turned out for MRC ‘A’ in the TNCA second division last year and continues to do so now when the side has qualified for first division. Essentially an on-side player when he started, Vivek has expanded his off-side range, can cut, play the cover-drives, both conventional and inside-out.

Venkataramana said, “Crucially, he is able to hit the ball straight and with a lot of force off either foot.”

There was a phase when Vivek was a tad uncomfortable against the short-pitched balls. Now, he, unfazed, launches into the pull when the ball is banged in or gets out of the way.

The stocky Vivek has learnt to harness the pace of the ball, utilises the angles behind square on both sides. And he remains someone who can send down handy medium pace and knock down the stumps with his throws. “If one of the IPL franchises picks him, I won’t be surprised,” said Venkataramana.

Vivek is destiny’s child. Who knows what’s in store for this rustic lad from the districts.