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The game of cricket asks for unconditional love, true commitment and sheer hard work. One puts their heart and soul into it, and this game shall never leave their hearts. One such young talent coming through the ranks of Karnataka is Sinan Abdul Khadir.
Sinan has played numerous sports only to be brought to the love of his life - cricket. He is very much like most young cricketers, plying his trade for Mizoram team currently in the Ranji Trophy. Sinan has represented Karnataka in all the age categories from U-19 to U-15 (Karnataka A). He was part of Karnataka Premier League sides like Bengaluru Blasters, Namma Shimoga, Bijapur Bulls and Mangalore United. In an exclusive interview with Fisto Sports, the bowling all-rounder speaks of this exciting new phase in his cricketing career:
Tell us a little about your life, background and how did you get into cricket?
Since the time I was a kid, I had keen interest in all the sports. During my school days, I played lot of racquet sports in which I was pretty good. I was also very good at football and I was even part of the U-19 football team. Even in cricket, it was like till my 10th standard I wasn’t playing that good but when I joined Jain College in Bangalore; all my friends came such as Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal and K. L. Rahul. When these guys around me are already established players, they gave me the clarity of being a profession to the sport and made me work towards it. They always instill positive thoughts within me and since from my U-19 days, I started my professional cricket. And I have been lucky enough to keep that atmosphere my whole playing career and have kept in touch with a lot of people I started with.
When did you start taking cricket seriously and who played an important role in helping you realise your potential?
My first coach Jeyaraj sir from Mangalore, since I’ve been young he noticed how good I was, he has always encouraged and supported me with my cricket. I played my first U-19 cricket for Karnataka and that’s when actually it hooked me start to taking the sport more seriously. Since then, I played in all the age category for Karnataka – U-19, U-22 and U-25. My first Ranji Trophy didn’t happen in Karnataka because obviously the team is super strong right now. So, the opportunity came from outside, so I grabbed onto it and Mizoram came as a blessing and I happened to play there last season. It was definitely a challenging experience for me, it gave me a good exposure playing with senior cricketers, but I want to give my best in the season ahead as the competition is also fierce.
What are the initial hurdles you faced while playing cricket and how did you tackle them?
There was not any problem but in any sport you take, there is always competition, even when you play for school there is a competition, when you play for the state team also competition.
Who was your cricketing idol while growing up? Whose bowling do you admire the most?
Anil Kumble used to my idol because I have been a similar with the bowling and the pattern of his bowling. Currently, I love Rashid Khan because he’s an amazing leg-spinner.
How did your cricket career shape during the school/college time?
For me Jain College, Bangalore was more like a state team itself. All the top cricketers from the state played for Jain College. So, it’s pretty much one college team was like entire state team itself. It was really tough to get into college team because there were already established player like Karun Nair, Manish Pandey and K.L. Rahul so you can imagine how strong the team was. When you are playing in that team, obviously you are going to realize that they are playing at the highest level.
What is the level of support you received from Karnataka association?
Karnataka Cricket Association is one of the best in the country. It can be seen from the IPL as many Karnataka players doing really well. The entire system is really good, with lots of facilities with being on point with the addition of amazing coaches and good pitches.
What age did you make your domestic cricket debut? Were you excited with the opportunity or nervous with the expectations from you?
Like I said earlier, it is a dream come true for every cricket player to play in the Ranji Trophy and it is everything I wanted. It happened last year, I was really excited and I really wanted to go out there, perform and express myself. And to be a part of that and to be a part of the setup that is taking cricket to another level is absolutely brilliant. Playing in Ranji Trophy is a huge thing, and I love every bit of it. In Ranji Trophy, the expectations are high and the performance is always counted. Your team is expecting from you as you’re a pro. There were ups and downs on the road, there were good games; and there were few games on the loss as well. Overall, the experience got the better out of me. Probably, the coming season I should contribute more.
How was your experience of playing Karnataka Premier League sides like Bengaluru Blaster, Namma Shimoga, Bijapur Bulls and Mangalore United, what the sport has taught you at the time?
Playing in the KPL is more like getting the feeling of playing in IPL, because there are lots of people coming into watch the tournament. The matches also live telecasted on Star Sports. It’s basically, if you really do well, there are lots of people watching you from the IPL scout, so that you can get noticed. There are lots of players from Karnataka in fact have done well in the KPL and got picked in the IPL.
What’s that best match you have ever played? And it was against which team?
I would say the best match I have ever played was last year against Pondicherry where I got my 5-wicket against the likes of Abhishek Nayar, Paras Dogra and Pankaj Singh. And then long back when V. V. S. Laxman played his last match for Hyderabad against Karnataka, where I had a good time bowing to a legend like him. So that was the great experience I have had in my life.
Every cricketer looks to improve all the time. What is that one thing you would like to work on?
Well, I do think that I am a good bowler and I also love batting and fielding too and that also makes me think that I have to really work hard in order to avoid mistakes especially when you know that you are good at something. I certainly have to work on the entire cricketing part – bowling, batting and fielding – everything as a package. Not like you work in one department. And right now the cricket demands are everything and you need to be an all-round performer and that is what I have been doing to improve as a cricketer and I hope I can continue doing that and even better in the coming years.
Talking about reaching high, very few people make into International stage from the domestic circuit. Do you now feel you’re in a good place to capitalise on your chance?
Everyone has a name to play and they have a goal to play for the country but you have to believe in the process. There are lots of levels, lot of play where you have to perform at the highest level and get recognized. There are lots of cricketers competing for the team sport, so you can’t give up at any point because you never know which one particular tournament you really do well and shine and there on you continue playing. We have so many cases right now, so many players who start from scratch, who get noticed in one or two matches and completely take it further and they go on to play for the country. Anything is possible for anyone, who all are playing at the particular domestic level.
A player you enjoyed bowling with? Also tell a bowler you enjoyed batting against?
I have always had a good time playing with Karun Nair and my teammate from Karnataka David Mathias and K.L.Rahul; so when I had played with them, it’s been a good time always because we are bunch of close friends. And when we get to play in the same ground and for sometimes we play against each other and sometime we play in the same team.
How would you define yourself as a bowler? Are you aggressive or calm in the display?
I am a leg-spinner but I am more on the quicker side – I am more aggressive when I am bowling, I am not traditional leg-spinner and right now if you compare me like in terms of the bowling pattern I would be more like the Imran Tahir or Rashid Khan; so I am more quick in the edge. So that’s the kind of bowling I am used to doing.
What have been your major highlights/achievements in cricket? When I first played for the Karnataka State team U-19, that was the first achievement I achieved as a cricketer. Obviously when you first play for your state is a great feeling. And the second one would be getting into the Ranji Trophy.
What are some of your medium/short term goals? (within the next year or so)
For my future goals would be I really want to get into the IPL. It’s again depending on how well I do in the season ahead or the coming season.
What are India’s chances in the 2019 Cricket World Cup? How far will they fare? Who will be crucial in the tournament?
Every team looks pretty good and India happens to be one of the strongest team in the tournament. But as the usual cliché goes cricket is a funny game – may be at one particular day, if you don’t’ do the things right, you will lose the game and get out of the tournament. On paper, India looks to be one of the strongest sides and I am eagerly looking forward for the best. And in regard to who will be crucial, I think for India it’s always going to be Virat Kohli and also the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Rohit Sharma, K.L.Rahul and Hardik Pandya will also be crucial for the team but obviously cricket is a team sport and it revolves around the entire team effort.