Abhinav Mukund inspired by fielding acts to fight back for India vs Sri Lanka

Abhinav Mukund’s 81 helped India take a massive 498-run lead against Sri Lanka on the third day of the first Test at Galle. The opener saw tough times in the past but has now proved his mettle on the biggest stage
Abhinav Mukund in action on the third day of the India vs Sri Lanka first Test.(AFP)
Abhinav Mukund in action on the third day of the India vs Sri Lanka first Test.(AFP)
Updated on Jul 28, 2017 09:28 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Galle | By Sanjjeev K Samyal

Those how have not followed Abhinav Mukund’s career properly will miss out on the fact that once he was considered good enough to be part of the greatest batting lineup in Indian cricket history. And, he had not done badly.

On an England tour in 2011 when even Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag struggled, Mukund got a 49 in the opening Test at Lord’s against an attack led by James Anderson. Yet, for no reason, Mukund played only one Test after that and was not seen around the Indian team till he played the Bangalore Test against Australia late last year --- after a gap of six years. (India vs Sri Lanka Day 3 Highlights)

To his disappointment, he failed to make good of the opportunity at Bangalore and was left out of the playing XI again. It is in the ongoing Test against Sri Lanka that he has got a break. He couldn’t do much in the first innings and was down in the dumps. But in the second innings, he came out all focused and confident to register a polished 81. So, what has changed? The inspiring moment came in the first innings, when he produced two stunning efforts at silly point, first a run-out of Upul Tharanga and then a low catch of Niroshan Dickwella.

“I think the catch and the run-out gave me a lot of confidence. I have worked really hard in the off season. I wanted to improve on my close-in fielding and also my batting. I have put in the hard yards. I was quite disappointed it didn’t come off on the first day, but then again it happened. No matter how hard you work, sometimes you just get out. It’s fine…I came back stronger the next day. I have had a decent day but I am disappointed to get out on 81,” said Mukund, sporting a satisfied look.

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He explained that the fielding effort was the result of the hard work he put in after spilling a sitter off Steve Smith in the Pune Test against Australia. It was one of the costliest misses in Indian cricket as Smith went on to score a hundred and won the game for Australia.

“I was disappointed after the Pune Test because I dropped a sitter off Steven Smith. It is one of those catches that go past you,” said Mukund. “It wasn’t a difficult chance either. It was quite a sitter. Ninety-nine times out of 100 I would have taken it. It haunted me.

“I wanted to do well because I wanted to be a specialist somewhere. In the Indian team, it is very important that you be a specialist fielder somewhere. I have worked a lot with (fielding coach) Sridhar.”

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The opening batsman from Chennai has shown great character to be part of the India squad again, but it has not been easy. He said dealing with the low points in his career has made him better equipped to deal with disappointments.

“There was a time I was raring to put on the whites. (Then) there was a time when I was dropped from my own first-class team. To have this opportunity to be part of the India team is such a huge bonus. I take every game as an opportunity, that’s all. Whether I am part of the team or not, I will try to do my best wherever I am.”

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Monday, October 18, 2021