Not many fast bowlers in India are known to crank up good pace. But for Rahul Shukla bowling fast is a passion, which he has proved on more than one occasion for Rajasthan Royals this season.
Shukla was with the Mumbai Indians team for three seasons, but only one game came his way. He patiently waited in the wings to make his presence felt, even as a back stress hampered his chances.
"Also the Mumbai team was filled with big players, so you don’t get too many opportunities,” Shukla told Mail Today.
That is when the Uttar Pradesh boy, who plays for Jharkhand at the domestic level, decided to shift to Rajasthan Royals. He played a big role in Royals’ win against Kolkata Knight Riders at home. But what caught everyone’s attention was the pace that he generated. "Even after my injury I did not want to give up on my pace. I can consistently bowl at 140-145 kph.
Royals is a perfect team for me to work my way up in Indian cricket,” he said.
Shukla has been picking up a few skills of fast bowling from Australian Shaun Tait, too.
"His career has been shortened by injuries, but he knows how to manage the workload. He tells me how a fast bowler needs to take care of his body. His inputs have been valuable,” he said.
But speed alone will not help him make a mark in international cricket and Shukla knows that.
"When you bowl to world class batsmen then you get to know the difference. In domestic cricket, pace is enough to fetch you wickets. But against quality players you have to strategise.
"I remember my IPL debut for Mumbai against Delhi Daredevils and I was hammered by Virender Sehwag and Kevin Pietersen. So, when I played my first match for Rajasthan, which was incidentally again Daredevils, it was at the back of my mind,” said Shukla, who hails from a farmer’s family in Jaunpur.
"Rahul Dravid too has been a big encouragement. Paddy Upton has spoken to me. Their support has been a big help.”