'Overwhelmed' Jagadeesan makes the most of debut

N. Jagadeesan was 'overwhelmed' with the Tamil Nadu cap presented to him by coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar ahead of the Ranji Trophy encounter against Madhya Pradesh. The wicketkeeper-batsman was to 'focus on the game' and produce a memorable century on debut.

N. Jagadeesan is all smiles after scoring an unbeaten 123 on Ranji Trophy debut against Madhya Pradesh.   -  Rayan Rosario

Coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar broke the news to N. Jagadeesan on the eve of the >match . Despite obvious excitement, the he slept well that night. A big moment beckoned next morning. The 20-year-old cricketer from Coimbatore would make his Ranji debut.

“The coach presented me with the Tamil Nadu cap, the emotions of the moment were overwhelming but I had to steady myself soon and focus on the game.”

Jagadeesan’s 123 not out of flair and character – he walked in at No. 7 – enabled Tamil Nadu to consolidate against Madhya Pradesh at Cuttack. A century on debut it was.

Actually, he was a tad nervous when he faced his first delivery. “It was a bouncer from around the wicket. I let it go. After that I was myself. I just approached it like any other game,” said Jagadeesan speaking to Sportstar on Tuesday.

But then, batting is only one half of ability as a cricketer. Jagadeesan is a full fledged wicketkeeper who is willing to do the hard yards.

“If you are a wicketkeeper, you cannot complain about workload. You are expected to keep and bat to the best of your ability. Batting should come naturally to all wicketkeepers since they ‘keep to so many deliveries, get to know the nature of the pitch,” Jagadeesan added.

In his debut game, Jagadeesan did come in as a wicket-keeper batsman since Dinesh Karthik, nursing injured fingers, played as a pure batsman. “Karthik sir is always there to help you. He is so dedicated to the game,” said Jagadeesan.

Shuttling between completing his graduation in commerce from PSG College in Coimbatore and cricket, Jagadeesan is proud to have made the State team from the districts. He represented the State side in age-group cricket and grabbed attention with his under-19 performances. Then, Jagadeesan impressed with his displays for the UFCC (T. Nagar) and Grand Slam in the TNCA first division league.

Jagadeesan said, “S. Suresh and Sreekumar Nair have been a big help to me at Grand Slam. J. R. Madanagopal and S. Sharath guided me at UFCC.”

Aggressive bat

A naturally aggressive top-order batsman, Jagadeesan was among the sensations of the inaugural Tamil Nadu Premier League, representing Dindigul Dragons. “I like to play my shots. I particularly love the front-footed drives and the inside-out lofted stroke. Against pacemen, I do play the hook and the pull.”

His favourite batsman is Virat Kohli, “I like his attitude, the manner he dominates bowlers.”

Adam Gilchrist and M.S. Dhoni are Jagadeesan’s idols as wicket-keeper batsmen. “As a keeper you need to get behind the ball, get your body alignment right.”

Jagadeesan’s father C. J. Narayan was also a wicket-keeper batsman who turned out for Tatas under Dilip Vengsarkar in Mumbai. “He often tells me to bat straight, play with a vertical blade.”

Despite early success, Jagadeesan wants to stay “grounded and not get carried away.” He is aware that ‘there is a lot more left to be achieved’.