Young Pondicherry team getting better, says Vinay Kumar

After 15 long years, Vinay Kumar moved from Karnataka to Pondicherry this year, and he is happy to have helped the young team.

Vinay Kumar feels that in his absence, the current young crop will raise the bar of Karnataka cricket.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

The arrests of C.M. Gautam and Abrar Kazi for their alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal in the Karnataka Premier League (KPL) have sent shock waves through the cricketing fraternity.

And R Vinay Kumar — one of the prominent faces in Karnataka cricket —is ‘hurt’ with the entire episode, and strongly believes that ‘whoever has done something wrong, should be punished’.

“It’s really sad. We did not think that such things will happen to Karnataka. Whoever has done something wrong, needs to be punished,” Vinay — who shifted to Pondicherry this season — told Sportstar on Thursday after his team’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy fixture against Haryana.

READ| CM Gautam, Abrar Kazi arrested on KPL spot-fixing charges

Last week, the Central Crime Branch (CCB) Bengaluru arrested Bellary Tuskers players Gautam and Kazi for allegedly receiving a total of Rs. 20 lakh to ‘bat slow’ in the 2019 KPL final against Hubli Tigers, which the latter ultimately won by eight runs.

“I am really hurt with whatever has happened. It should not have happened. You feel bad,” Vinay, who was the captain of the Hubli Tigers in the KPL, said.

The 35-year-old Vinay, who has represented India in 31 ODIs, one Test and nine T20Is, also believes that such incidents leave a negative impression on the game. “It’s not good for cricket, especially for the youngsters who are coming to play for Karnataka. They have seen players as their role models and if they know about such things, it leaves a bad impression. But there are very good examples also, who went on to play for India. They performed and waved the Karnataka flag at the international stage, so these small incidents could hurt their feelings, but I am sure, things will get better,” he said.

READ| CM Gautam's Goa contract terminated after arrest on spot-fixing charges

Helping the young team

After 15 long years, Vinay moved from Karnataka to Pondicherry this year, and he is happy to have helped the young team. “The experience has been really good. We qualified for the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, but unfortunately, we lost the game against Karnataka — my previous team.

”If you see that game, had we bowled first, we could have given a better fight. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament, we can’t take any teams lightly. T20 is all about two guys clicking with the bat or the ball. Defending 120 in the first match shows the kind of calibre these guys have and I am really enjoying my role,” he said.

He is trying to help out the fast bowlers. “If I talk to fast, bowlers, I need to understand their mindset and make them understand their roles. They have to keep things simple. It’s a young side but is quite a talented side. They are getting better day by day,” he said.

READ | KPL spot-fixing: Karnataka cricket shocked over Gautam, Kazi arrests

Maintaining the legacy

When he broke into the Karnataka side in 2004, the team already had a few domestic stalwarts, but he left his mark soon. And Vinay feels that in his absence, even the current young crop will raise the bar. “I have always played for my team. Now also, coming out, I am helping Karnataka to grow as a team. Manish (Pandey) has been a good captain, he was doing well since last year. If I was there, I would have blocked some youngster’s place in the team,” he said.

“When my seniors left, (Abhimanyu) Mithun, (Srinath) Aravind and I took charge of bowling and kept the legacy. These people can also keep it going,” the seasoned campaigner said.