Baba Aparajith, one of the stars of India’s triumph at the ICC under-19 World Cup 2012, had a stellar domestic season. He was the leading run-scorer in the Duleep Trophy and then amassed 584 runs in the Ranji Trophy for Tamil Nadu. Gaurav Joshi caught up with Aparajith and spoke to him about his first full season in Indian domestic cricket.
Baba Aparajith made quite an impression during the ICC under-19 World Cup 2012. In tough situations, he exhibited sound temperament and good technique to wade through rough waters. In his first full season in domestic cricket, Aparajith has lived up to his reputation and promises bigger things for the future. He was the leading run-scorer in the Duleep Trophy, wherein he amassed 326 runs at an average of 163.00 in three matches with a highest score of 21. Appearing in the eight Ranji Trophy matches for Tamil Nadu, he scored 584 runs at 58.40 with two tons and two fifties. One of those tons was a double — 203.
In an interview with CricketCountry, Aparajith looks back at a phenomenal season.
CricketCountry (CC): During the end of the Indian Premier League (IPL), you told us about the long off-season ahead. What did you do during the off-season?
Baba Aparajith (BA): I had an under-25 camp at Mysore. It was right after the IPL and was very useful. At the camp, I worked on a few technical points with the coaches. Most of the under-25 guys had played Ranji Trophy and it gave me exposure to the Ranji Trophy bowlers. We had a few practice matches, where I could get my game in order.
After I got back from Mysore, I worked with my coach, Mr Balaji (who has coached Aparjith since the age of eight) in Chennai. There we discussed the technical changes (moving across to the off stump) and he explained all the corrections, so I knew my game inside out before the new season.
CC: Before the domestic season, you were selected for India A in September for a one-day series against the West Indies A. How did you feel at that moment ?
BA: It was a nice feeling to be picked for India A and the good thing was that I was in good form. I was playing a one-day tournament in Hyderabad. It was right after I scored a hundred in that competition that I got a call which said I had been picked for the India A team. In the next game again, I got a hundred and I had a positive feeling about my game — which was so important to me. Playing for India A allowed me to rub shoulders with guys like Yuvraj Singh. I realised they were just normal people and they all encouraged me. So it was a huge thrill.
CC: You started First-Class cricket this season with a bang — a double hundred and a hundred in the Duleep Trophy, followed by a ton in the first Ranji Trophy game.
BA: Yes, most importantly, I felt really good in my mind about my batting. The most satisfying part was that every time I got a start in those first few matches, I was able to convert into a hundred or a double hundred. Rather than the technical point of view, your mental application is so important, there are days you don’t hit the ball as well but you push your way through that day. That was the most satisfying part for me and I felt my game had evolved. I felt I was able to understand my game right from the start.
CC: How has playing in Australia at the under-19 level helped your batting this season?
BA: I feel confidence plays a huge role in batting and that is one part I take from playing well in Australia. I know in conditions that people find difficult, I played really well, so I always use those past situations to help me mentally, when I am not scoring a lot of runs. Scoring runs in tough conditions, doing well in the under-19 World Cup for the team, I use such experiences for my confidence. Whenever I’m down and not playing well, I always think of the under-19 World Cup days and it makes me think in that positive manner, which is so important to batting.
CC: Which was the most satisfying or challenging innings this year in domestic cricket?
BA: It would have to be first match in the Duleep Trophy against West Zone, in which I scored 212. I came in at 20 for two and it was the first game of the fresh new season. I felt I was hitting the ball really well; it was one those innings the ball went exactly where I wanted it to go. I scored another double hundred in the Ranji Trophy but that innings was not as fluent as my Duleep Trophy double.
The most challenging conditions were in the game against UP and I scored 60; it was not unplayable but the ball was seaming around and I felt that technically, I had to be perfect to score runs on that pitch. If I had scored a 100 on that pitch, it would have been something I would have been proud off but I got out for 60.
CC: Is it fair to say you under-bowled this year? Do Tamil Nadu see you as a genuine all-rounder or more of a batsman who bowls once in while?
BA: I always like to bowl a lot, but if have a look at our team formation, we played with five specialist bowlers. I always want to be a genuine all-rounder and I work a lot on my bowling but given the way the team was formed, it is natural to use your specialist bowlers. I know I have to keep working on my bowling because in the future, if we play with four bowlers and then I’m asked to bowl a lot then, I have to deliver.
CC: You didn’t score a lot at the end of the season as you did at the start…
BA: Well, I mean I started with double hundreds and hundreds. so it is quite difficult to match that all the time. Importantly, I always look at a new innings as if it was my first innings. That way you live in the present and you don’t think about the past. Also, perhaps I got a couple of really good balls and adding to that, I played a few bat shots, but that is all part of a learning process. I feel I need to improve at least five per-cent each season and I believe that is more satisfying for a cricketer; knowing you are improving with each outing.
CC: How disappointing was it to lose the final match to Bengal by five runs?
BA: It was disappointing knowing if had won, we would have qualified for the quarter-finals, but according to me, it was one of the most challenging games of cricket I have played in. It was great experience for me to play on such a turning track and despite the loss, I really enjoyed that exposure to be frank. I think we lost the game in the first innings. We didn’t bat to our potential but to chase 180 in the last innings was difficult and I think we should hold our heads high for coming so close.
CC: Overall, a satisfying season at a personal level?
BA: I wouldn’t say a completely satisfying season. I would have liked to have scored more runs but overall it was a good season. I managed hundreds and double hundreds. I felt there were plenty of positives for me and that is important because I can always dwell back on those positive situations in the future.
(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)
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