By Khurram Habib
New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) While most India players and budding stars struggled to train during the Covid-19 lockdown last year as they were locked up in their homes, Karnataka pacer M Prasidh Krishna, who was picked in Indian ODI squad on Friday for the upcoming home series against England, maintained his fitness at a friend’s garage in his neighbourhood in Bengaluru.
“Initially, lockdown [for me] was quite like anybody else’s. Like two-three months of it was just at home, nothing to do much. I was just doing my basic stuff, and then later a bit more. I was fortunate enough to have a friend nearby — he had a gym in his garage. So, we put up a small station there and trained there. Once the Indian Premier League was announced, from then on everything went smoothly,” 25-year-old Krishna told IANS.
The right-arm pace bowler has been picked for the three-match ODI series against England that begins in Pune on March 23.
Krishna’s domestic performances have been impressive. He was a driving force behind Karnataka winning the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day titles in 2017-18 and 2019-20. He was the second highest wicket-taker (17), behind Mohammed Siraj in the 2017-18 edition, and also picked 17 scalps in the 2019-20 edition. In the just-concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, he was among the top five wicket-takers with 14 scalps and helped Karnataka reach the semi-finals where they lost to eventual champions Mumbai.
Krishna feels his domestic performances as well as IPL has helped him. While Karnataka doing well has helped him get noticed, the IPL aided him in gaining experience of playing under pressure.
“It has been a combination of both IPL and domestic cricket performances. At the domestic level Karnataka have been doing really well over the last few years. As a team, once you start winning tournaments and playing big games, many of your players start to get recognised. I think I am blessed being part of the Karnataka side,” he said.
“Even at Kolkata Knight Riders, in terms of the platform they have given me and the exposure I have had, with so many other stars around — nothing can beat that. When you play IPL, the first things is that you have to perform in pressure situations against international stars and in front of around 60,000 people. Second thing is that you rub shoulders with the greats of the game. There is so much more to learn from them — the way they handle themselves — you try and stay composed no matter what the situation is. Your work ethic and so many other things improve,” said Krishna.
Known for bowling at good pace and extracting bounce, Krishna has played 24 matches in three IPL seasons and taken 18 wickets. He has been a bit expensive though in the IPL, conceding 9.33.
Captain Virat Kohli, however, feels he is needed in the India team. “I think one guy will be a surprise package going to Australia (for 2020 T20 World Cup which didn’t happen due to Covid-19). Someone who can bowl with pace and has bounce. Prasidh has done well in the domestic arena. It is a great luxury to have this group of bowlers in all formats. Looking at the World Cup, we have enough options,” Kohli had said in early 2020.
Krishna says Kohli’s words gave him a lot of confidence. “Kohli saying this gave me a lot of confidence. For me, someone like the captain of the Indian cricket team talking about you or mentioning your name means that you work a little more harder and you might get called up and it has happened. I think it did boost my confidence — the way I trained and my motivation level,” he said.
With a lot of competition in the Indian team for pace bowlers’ slots, Krishna will find it tough to establish himself. But he doesn’t feel any pressure.
“Not really (on asked if there is pressure to perform). It has been the same for me in Karnataka which was a star-studded bowling line-up. It took me some time to break into the line-up. I think it (competition) just pushes me. It made me what I am today. It is good to have competition around you. I think you grow through competition,” he said of the time he had to sit out as R Vinay Kumar, S Aravind and Abhimanyu Mithun remained the first-choice bowlers for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy.
Krishna began playing cricket about 13 years back when as a 12-year-old, he enrolled in the Basavanagudi Cricket Academy in Bengaluru. His dad did not play any good level of cricket although he was pretty famous as a player in his locality and was also a big cricket fan. His mother was a university volleyball player.
“As usual, like any other youngster in the country, I started playing cricket just like that. I just kept at it and started playing a lot of tennis ball cricket and got into one of the camps, then school cricket, then state level in various age-group,” he added.
The Bengaluru-lad also talked about what prompted him to take up fast bowling.
“The sheer joy of watching the stumps flying and knowing batsmen get scared of the fast bowlers — bouncers and all of that. That is what pulled me towards fast bowling.”