Associate Cricket News Oman

Be hungry for success, says Nilesh Kulkarni former Indian Test cricketer

Oman U19 Team
Nilesh Kulkarni (centre) receives Oman national team jersey from Oman Cricket chairman H E Pankaj Khimji (left) and a national team cap from Oman Cricket’s chief development officer Duleep Mendis Credit: Oman Cricket Media

Kulkarni’s mantra for Oman U19 boys ahead of the ICC U19 Men’s CWC Division 2 -Asia Qualifier

Muscat — Young Oman cricketers are training hard these days as they gear up for the ICC U19 Men’s CWC Division 2 -Asia Qualifier. The boys will be looking to impress at home and advance to the final round of the Asian Qualifier.

Wishing them the very best for the forthcoming tournament, former Indian Test cricketer Nilesh Kulkarni had some valuable lessons for them during his recent visit to Oman.

In a chat with Oman Cricket’s media consultant, Ashok Purohit, Kulkarni said, “It is a crucial tournament for the youngsters. The very important thing for the teenagers is to enjoy the game.

“They should be hungry for success and never be contended. In one match a cricketer may get a century or pick five wickets. But that shouldn’t make him contended. He should try to do better in the next. That approach will give them success.

“For these youngsters, it is important for them to learn. They should have the ability to learn from the failures. Failure is part and parcel of a cricketer. What defines and determines a top-class cricketer is how to bounce back from failures.”

Kulkarni met Oman Cricket (OC) chairman H E Pankaj Khimji and also visited the Oman Cricket Academy. “The facilities at the Oman Cricket Academy ground are world-class. The infrastructure development and ground is excellent. The vision of Oman Cricket that H E Pankaj Khimji shared with me makes me believe that Oman is on a good wicket. It has certainly all the ingredients to be the best among Associate Nations,” said the former Indian cricketer.

25th year of a rare feat

For a cricketer to pick up a wicket of the very first ball of his Test career is a dream. Only 20 cricketers have achieved the distinction till date and among them in Kulkarni, the only Indian to be in the list.

A slow left-arm bowler and a left-handed batter, the tall cricketer, who stands at 6 ft 5 inches, marked the silver jubilee of his achievement only last month. Kulkarni recorded the feat on 3 August 1997 against Sri Lanka when he had Marvan Atapattu caught behind by Nayan Mongia at R Premdasa Stadium in Colombo.

“Yes, I do remember more now, thanks to the media evolution. Back then, not many noticed and moreover it was a Test to forget overall as Sri Lanka went to score more than 900 runs. For the first ten years, I did not even have a video clip of the wicket.

“Then a friend shared it and I have been reliving the feat since the past five years. It feels good and I am proud to be the only Indian among the 20 in the world to have done it,” said Kulkarni.

Sports management courses in Oman?

Having retired from cricket in 2007 after a long innings with Mumbai, Kulkarni said that the failure to bag a contract in the inaugural year of Indian Premier League in 2008 forced him to think out of box.

“I think the trigger was IPL launch when I felt that there was scope to do something else than coaching or commentary. IPL saw the growth of sports sector and I decided to set up International Institute of Sports Management (IISM) in 2010.

IISM has been in the forefront of producing professionals over the past decade or more and according to Kulkarni a ‘total of 2,000 students have graduated from IISM’ so far.

Kulkarni said that ‘there has been interest shown by few organisations in Oman’ and he is keen to explore the possibility of cooperation to bring in sports management and sports science courses in the Sultanate.

“The Gulf nations have invested a lot in sports events, be it UAE hosting IP and Formula One or Qatar going to host 2022 FIFA World Cup. Saudi Arabia and Bahrain have also invested a lot in holding major sports events. Amid this backdrop, Oman has the potential to grow. They would need their own people to develop the sports sector. So I believe that we can bring in our expertise to offer them sports management courses,” said Kulkarni.

India have match-winners for T20 World Cup

Having played his major first class cricket with Mumbai under Sachin Tendulkar, Kulkarni said, “Sachin is an institution. It is always enlightening to hear from him as a cricketer, friend and a mentor. For me there is no better cricketer than Sachin. The best part is that he is always willing to help you.”

Speaking on the recent Asia Cup debacle, Kulkarni agreed that India played ‘bad cricket’ and added that the team under coach Rahul Dravid will have to finalise the combination during the upcoming T20I series against Australia and South Africa ahead of the ICC T20 World Cup next month.

On the chances of India at the T20 World Cup, Kulkarni said “India are strong contenders despite the lacklustre showing at the Asia Cup.

“There are two strong reasons for me to back India. India have lot of individual match-winners, be it in batting, bowling or fielding. The exposure of IPL has helped the team and it has to be seen how the selectors make their final choice. For India to go deep into the World Cup, the top-order has to deliver.

“Also spinners will play a key role as boundaries in Australia are long. Hardik Pandya’s rise as the main allround spearhead will have to be backed by another key allrounder. The loss of Ravindra Jadeja is a big blow for the team.”

Kulkarni said that India will also need to look for a left-right batting combination and backed youngster Arshdeep Singh as a left-arm quick.

“We will have to finalise and settle our team during the T20I series against Australia and South Africa. Who will be the choice of second opener along with Rohit Sharma and whether R Ashwin will be the second spinner are few questions that have to be answered. With youngsters in Deepak Hooda, Arshdeep, Surya Kumar Yadav, India will be a strong contender,” concluded Kulkarni.

Oman U19 national team that will take part in the upcoming ICC Men’s U19 CWC Division 2-Asia Qualifiers

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