When A. Mithun had Rajasthan’s Rajesh Bishnoi caught by Karnataka wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas on Thursday, he reached a big personal milestone. It was his 300th first-class wicket, even if he was not immediately aware of it.
“A lot of people had sent me congratulatory messages, so I found out only when I checked my phone later," Mithun told Sportstar here, “It’s been a long and wonderful journey.”
Manish Pandey, Karun Nair steer Karnataka into semis
His first-class journey began in 2009, under none other than Rahul Dravid, against Uttar Pradesh. It was a memorable debut for the fast-bowler, who recorded an 11-wicket match-haul.
“(Then Karnataka coach) Sanath Kumar saw potential in me as a junior, and brought me into the senior team. I owe a lot to him. Rahul (Dravid) bhai welcomed me, as he was impressed with my bowling in the nets," Mithun said.
Since then, Mithun has formed a formidable pace combination with R. Vinay Kumar. “I’ve learnt so much from Vinay. He is 34 now - to see him pushing himself to the limit motivates me. Vinay’s numbers, as captain and bowler, speaks for itself. But there’s more to it than just numbers. He is a born fighter, who has bailed the team out from tough situations so many times," Mithun said.
The 2013-15 seasons, when Karnataka won back-to-back trebles, stands out as a glorious chapter. Mithun picks his performance against Mumbai in the 2015 Ranji Trophy semifinal as the highlight. He made 89 as nightwatchman in the second innings, and then picked up four wickets to guide Karnataka to victory. “That semifinal contribution, against a strong team like Mumbai, made me proud. The double treble phase was brilliant, because we were unstoppable across formats. Jak (coach J. Arunkumar) and Mak (assistant coach Mansur Ali Khan) had built a very strong team,” he said.
After the highs of being part of an all-conquering side came the lows. Mithun missed a good part of the following season due to injuries, and it culminated with J. Arunkumar chiding Mithun for competing in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal loss to Tamil Nadu despite not being fully fit.
The episode hurt Mithun, but he used it as motivation to work hard on his fitness. “Everyone knows how I hard I work on my fitness. I’ve pushed myself and I feel good about my fitness now. I can still
contribute with the ball and bat. I’m waiting for an opportunity, in the IPL, to prove myself on the big stage,” the 29-year-old said.
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