R. Vinay Kumar announces retirement, wants to give back to Karnataka cricket

Vinay played one Test (against Australia in Perth in 2012), 31 ODIs and nine T20Is. The 37-year-old last featured for India in the limited-overs leg of a home series against Australia in 2013.

File picture of R. Vinay Kumar.   -  K. R. DEEPAK

Former India cricketer and Karnataka captain R. Vinay Kumar announced his retirement from international and first-class cricket on Friday.

An intelligent pacer and a capable batsman, Vinay played one Test (against Australia in Perth in 2012), 31 ODIs and nine T20Is. The 37-year-old last featured for India in the limited-overs leg of a home series against Australia in 2013.

Vinay was an outstanding performer in his 17-year domestic career. He scalped 504 wickets in 139 first-class matches and is the highest wicket-taker among fast bowlers in Ranji Trophy history. He also has 225 and 194 wickets in List A and T20 matches respectively. With the bat, he scored two centuries and 17 fifties in first-class matches.

His most significant achievement came during his successful tenure as Karnataka captain when he led the side in the back-to-back treble-winning seasons in 2013-14 and 2014-15. Vinay time and again lifted the spirits of the Karnataka team with his never-say-die and workhorse attitude. He also possessed a sharp mind, spotting and exploiting weaknesses in opposition batsmen on the fly.

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In 2019, after an immensely fruitful and long association with Karnataka, Vinay joined the Puducherry team. Vinay also represented Kochi Tuskers Kerala, Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore in 11 IPL seasons.

“I’ve finished my playing career with no regrets. The back-to-back treble-winning seasons are definitely a highlight of my domestic career. The 2014-15 Ranji Trophy final against Tamil Nadu is another favourite memory, as I scored a hundred and picked up five wickets in the match,” Vinay told ‘Sportstar’ on Friday.

Vinay started his journey as a promising junior cricketer in Davangere, his hometown. While playing for Tumkur Zone, he was spotted by Y.B. Patel and B. Siddaramu, who offered him a spot in Neptune CC in the KSCA fifth division league in Bengaluru. The next season, Vinay stepped up to represent powerhouse first division team Swastic Union CC (1).

“I got selected for the Karnataka senior team after getting wickets in the all-India MRF Trophy. Playing under Anil Kumble, I took a hat-trick against Railways and four wickets against Indian Oil Corporation, which had the likes of Wasim Jaffer, Romesh Powar and Zaheer Khan in the side,” Vinay said.

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The Bengal duo of Rohan Gavaskar and Sourav Ganguly was Vinay’s first wickets in domestic cricket - an auspicious start indeed. "Gavaskar shouldered arms and got out leg-before. Ganguly edged one to Sujith Somasunder at second slip. It was a dream start to my Karnataka career," Vinay said.

Vinay stated that the tough grind of his early years helped shape his keen cricket brain. "When I was playing mofussil cricket for Tumkur Zone, I had several dropped catches off my bowling. It made me feel horrible because I desperately needed wickets to get picked for the Karnataka junior teams. That is when I decided to concentrate on getting LBW and bowled dismissals. I always had to think about the game," Vinay said.

On his international career, Vinay said, “I’m happy that I played for India in all formats. Perhaps I could have got a few more chances to play Tests, but that’s part of life. My India debut - a T20I against Sri Lanka in 2010 - was an unforgettable experience. I took the wickets of Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara in that match."

In this new chapter of life, Vinay is keen to develop cricket in his beloved Karnataka. “I’m open to coaching or whatever else may come my way. I want to give back to Karnataka cricket. If I cannot contribute to Karnataka cricket, then what was the point of me playing the sport for so long. I would love to see Karnataka lift several more trophies, and I will help in any way to make that possible,” Vinay said.

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