Winning a treble (the Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Trophy) in an Indian domestic season is difficult. Doing it twice in two years is simply outstanding.
This is exactly what discarded Indian pacer Vinay Kumar did a couple of years back with Karnataka.
A consistent performer in the last decade and a half in the domestic circuit, Vinay Kumar went onto represent India across all three formats. He has played a solitary Test, 31 ODIs and nine T20Is in his brief career with the Indian team and has taken 49 wickets.
He has also taken 418 first-class wickets at an average of 23.53 and a strike-rate of 49.3, 204 List A wickets at an average of 24.3 and takes a wicket every five overs. Adding to this, he has taken 162 wickets in 155 T20I matches and is one of the very few bowlers to have taken 100 IPL wickets and have won the tournament thrice.
Though his stint with the Indian team was cut short, Vinay is still going strong in the domestic circuit and is hoping to make a come back to the national team. The 33-year-old, who is set to lead Karnataka once again, will turn out of Hubli Tigers in the 2017 KPL after playing for Belgavi Panthers until the last season.
Tigers have also acquired some proven match-winners in the format and will look to win the tournament for the first time under Vinay Kumar after finishing as the runners up in the last two seasons.
Sportskeeda caught up with the Davangere Express on the sidelines of an event arranged by the tournament organisers. He spoke on various things in a brief chat. Here are the excerpts.
The KPL has been a great platform for the youngsters. What role does a veteran like you have to play during the tournament?
My role in the KPL being the captain of Karnataka and someone who has been playing in the KPL for the past five years is to give the youngsters a lot of space and comfort zone so that they don't feel like they are playing for the first time in KPL and can perform to their potential. They will be more tensed compared to the other cricketers and if you want to take the best out of them, you should give them that space and the comfort zone.
The KPL has always produced some quality players like Shivil Kaushik, K Gowtham, KC Cariappa, R Samarth, Mohd. Taha etc. Are there any such players to watch out for this season?
Most of the guys have played in the KPL before. You clearly mentioned all those who performed well in the KPL and went on to play for Karnataka and in the IPL. This year, there is a guy called Aman Khan in our team, who bowls slow left-arm and bats left-handed. I am very excited to see him play and expect him to do well. I really don't know much about the other teams. But, we can definitely see some good youngsters making a mark during the course of the tournament.
What made you choose fast bowling as your primary art?
I started playing cricket as a batsman. In my early days, I played as a batsman who can bowl. Slowly, I started liking fast bowling. Whenever I used to bowl, I get a lot of wickets. Gradually, I developed an interest more towards my bowling than my batting. When I started playing for Tumkur Zone, I played as a bowler and performed really well. Then, I moved to Bangalore and started playing league cricket where I did well as a bowler before started representing Karnataka.
I started liking my bowling more because whenever my team needed a wicket, I used to come and get one. I used to enjoy these small moments (getting a wicket for the team when needed). When my teammates struggle to take wickets, I used to take it as a challenge and say to myself "let me go and take a wicket". Sometimes, it worked and sometimes, it didn't. At the end of the day, I enjoyed bowling more than my batting and became a bowler who can bat.
What were the emotions you went through when you made your Test debut?
It is always a great feeling when you represent your country in Test cricket. Any player, when he starts playing cricket dreams about playing for the country in Test cricket. It is the ultimate level. When I made my debut at the WACA in Perth, I was very happy because it was like a dream come true.
You were a part of the 2013 Indian team that won the Champions Trophy? How was the feeling in the dressing room during the innings break and after the win?
There was a mixed feeling in the dressing room. it was raining that day and the players had to go out to play, come back when the rain returns and go out again when it stops. It was very frustrating. During the innings break, we knew that we had the team to win the match and the tournament. Our record in the Champions Trophy was too good and everyone contributed to the team's success.
We were very confident that we are going to win this.Because of the rain, the match was reduced to 20 overs and the Indian team was a very good T20 side, thanks to the IPL. After winning, we enjoyed like anything. It was like a dream come true because India had never won the tournament in the past (shared the title with Sri Lanka in 2002) and we won it for the first time. We thoroughly enjoyed the moment and everyone were happy.
You are one of the few players who have won the IPL thrice. Also, you have a good track record in the tournament. You are a veteran in the domestic circuit too. How is IPL different from the domestic circuit?
Definitely, IPL is one level higher than the domestic circuit. The level and the way one plays remain the same and only the mindset and competition differ as it is a bit higher than the competition one gets in the domestic circuit. In domestic circuit, you will get weaker teams in your group, but in IPL, it is like playing with International cricketers.
Every team will have at least six players who have played International cricket. It makes IPL tougher when compared to domestic cricket. Playing in the IPL has been a good experience and I am very lucky to be a part of the winning team thrice.
What can we expect from Karnataka this season?
Over the last few years, we have been playing well. We failed to make it to the knockouts a couple of seasons back and last year, we lost to Tamil Nadu in the quarter-finals. But, I don't have any regrets about the loss to TN because the wicket was very damp and the result was dependant on the toss. It was kind of whoever wins the toss will win the match. This year, we have a similar squad and the youngsters are doing well. They have been playing few tournaments from which you can judge the form they are in.
Definitely, we have a good team this year and our goal is to win Ranji Trophy. After winning the two titles in two seasons, we didn't do any justification for the talent we had in the last two seasons. But, it is very important for us to come together and do well this season. We have the team to win Ranji Trophy this year.
What among these do you prefer in Ranji trophy and why? Home and away format or neutral venues?
Home and away format will be good because when you play in front of your home crowd, the support will be different. There will be a lot of emotions going on playing in front of the home crowd. When the opposition team plays away from home, they will play under pressure and that will help them grow as cricketers. Playing at neutral venues are challenging, but playing in front of the home crowd will be missed. Personally, I prefer the home and away format.
Can the Indian current team deliver overseas?
Definitely. If you see the team we have now, the balance is good. Batting, bowling (both spin and pace), fielding, every single department is good. Hardik has been a revelation for the Indian team of late. When you have such a good team playing under a skipper like Kohli, who has been leading from the front, you are always expected to do well. With the kind of team we have, we can definitely do well away from home.
What are your short time and long time goals?
Short time goal is to win the KPL with Hubli Tigers. After that, we have Ranji Trophy, where we went a little bit away from our goal in the last two seasons. We want to win it this time. These are the two immediate goals.
Long time goal is to play for India again. I want to make a come back badly. I have been doing well of late (highest wicket taker in the 2015-16 domestic season and won the Player of the Match in the last three matches I played in the 2016-17 season). I am just waiting for my opportunities. I know that there is a lot of competitions and I love facing them. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, I just want to come back to the Indian team. Bowling is my priority but whenever I get an opportunity with the bat or in the field, I want to make a difference for the team.
Do you have any tips for the budding fast bowlers?
Fast bowling is an art. Nowadays, they might think that they will get to play on flat wickets. If you want to be a good fast bowler, you should learn how to bowl and get wickets on a flat deck. It is not about getting a five-wicket haul every time, if you are able to get 2 or 3 wickets on flat tracks and help the team win, that will be more than enough.
They should also bowl more at the initial stage of their career and should work really hard. There is no shortcut to success. It might take more time, but at the end of the day, you will achieve what you wanted.