Ravi Bishnoi: From bylane to big buy

His consistent performance also helped Ravi bag an IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab — he was bought for Rs2 crore.

Ravi Bishnoi (right) of India celebrates after taking a wicket in the ICC U-19 World Cup in February.

Age: 19

From: Birami, Jodhpur

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Mentors: Shah Rukh Khan Pathan, Pradyot Singh

Beginning: Shah Rukh Khan Pathan remembers those days when a group of youngsters would play tennis ball cricket at the RTO ground in BJS Colony in Jodhpur. There were no proper facilities available, and the kids — hardly eight or nine years old then — would mostly play on the streets.

Watching them closely, Pathan and his friend Pradyot Singh decided to help them. Having played junior-level cricket for Rajasthan, both knew that at least a couple of boys could make it count if they were trained well.

And that’s when they asked the youngsters to practice with them. One of the young medium pacers — Ravi Bishnoi — caught their attention. Hailing from the village of Birami, Ravi was hardworking, but Pathan and Singh thought he could do better if he honed his skills as a leg-spinner.

That was in 2010 and the Indian Premier League had brought a ray of hope to the young cricketers of the small town. Following the advice of his mentors, Ravi picked up leg-spin and eventually mastered the art of bowling googlies. “What impressed me was the trajectory of the deliveries. The angle of release helped the trajectory being a bit different from usual. His googlies are also difficult to read,” Pathan says.

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While Ravi, then a student of Saraswati Vidya Ashram, chased his dreams, for Pathan and Singh, it was a challenge to help the youngster advance to the next level.

“There was no academy in this part of the world, and we got busy with our jobs. But then, we decided to help the kids and thought of starting an academy,” Pathan says.

However, due to lack of funds, they could not afford to hire labourers to build their academy. So the coaches and the young cricketers did everything themselves — from laying pitches to setting up the turf. Ravi, too, worked with his team-mates and the Spartan Cricket Academy finally saw the light of the day in 2015.

“Since my childhood, I wanted to play cricket and my father always supported me. My mentors taught me a lot and it is beacuse of them that I could turn into a leg-spinner,” Ravi tells Sportstar.

Unable to hire labourers due to lack of funds, the coaches and the young cricketers did everything themselves — from laying pitches to setting up the turf. Ravi (left), too, worked with his team-mates and the Spartan Cricket Academy finally saw the light of the day in 2015.

 

While he has made heads turn in the U-19 World Cup, picking up 17 wickets in the tournament, his journey hasn’t been smooth. After making his presence felt in the district level tournaments, Ravi got an opportunity to bowl at the nets for Rajasthan Royals in 2018. “It was a big opportunity for me as I got to bowl to some of the top players. It was really a big thing for me,” Ravi says. To pursue cricket, he even skipped his board examinations. “I wanted to make my presence felt and I was working really hard.”

Just when things looked sorted, Ravi suffered a setback.

With political infighting continuing at the Rajasthan Cricket Association, Ravi failed to make it to the U-19 team and was even rejected at the trials.

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“Prior to the trials, there were selection matches and he had taken 15 wickets in five matches. But even then, he was not picked in the trails. It was heartbreaking,” Pathan says, revealing that after the incident, Ravi’s father — a teacher by profession — called him and asked him to send his ward home.

“It was disappointing for all of us. But I asked for some more time and then we reached Jaipur and requested the selectors to give him another opportunity.”

That’s when former Rajasthan wicketkeeper and Rajasthan Royals’ fielding coach, Dishant Yagnik, helped them. “The selectors agreed and I was given another chance. I picked up a wicket off the very first delivery. That helped me break into the U-19 squad,” Ravi reminisces.

He hasn’t looked back since. The youngster scalped a five-for in his first match of the Vinoo Mankad Trophy and made it to the India U-19 camp. He also featured for the Rajasthan senior team in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy. At the National Cricket Academy, Ravi got a chance to meet Rahul Dravid.

“Sessions with Rahul Sir helped me a lot. Rahul sir once told me that my speed was almost same as Anil Sir’s (Kumble). He asked me to stick to the basics and trick the batsmen. That was helpful,” Ravi says, adding that he used Dravid’s tactics during the U-19 World Cup, which helped him immensely.

His consistent performance also helped Ravi bag an IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab — he was bought for ₹2 crore. Ravi, who is a big fan of Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, was looking forward to the opportunity. However, the coronavirus pandemic has halted his dreams.

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With no clarity on the future of the IPL, Ravi is unsure if he will get a chance to train under Kumble. But he’s optimistic.

Even during the nationwide lockdown, Ravi trained hard indoors in a bid to keep himself ready for the challenge.

Having gained experience in the U-19 World Cup, Ravi hopes to graduate to the senior-level soon. “I am working on a few areas. It’s going to be a challenging journey, but I am confident,” the youngster, who is fondly called ‘Browny’ by his team-mates and mentors, says.

Bagging an IPL contract has been a dream come true for Ravi and he wants to make it count as and when the tournament kicks off.

Career graph

2017: Represented Jodhpur in district level tournaments.

2018: Made it to Rajasthan U-19 squad.

2018-19: Selected for India U-19 camps.

2019: In February, he made his T20 debut for Rajasthan in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy; In September, made his List A debut for Rajasthan; In October, named in India A squad for Deodhar Trophy.

2020: Featured in the U-19 World Cup for India.