Simplicity is the key for Praveen
"It's easier to hit a six than a four. You just have to whack the bad ball and it sails." Praveen Kumar Singh likes to keep his cricket as simple as his views on big hitting. But that is just one facet of the Uttar Pradesh all rounder's personality who is fast gaining the reputation of a reliable crisisman.
The 22-year-old impressed all and sundry on the opening day of the Ultra Tech Challenger Series for the NKP Salve trophy with a brilliant exhibition of new ball bowling. He then played sensibly for his 30-ball 37 at the death to give India Red a glimpse of victory before holding out to Suresh Raina in the deep while trying to up the tempo.
"The ball was in the slot. Had the bat not turned in my hand it would have been a six and the match would have turned on its head," he said without any regret for attempting an ambitious six just after sending the ball in the stands on the previous delivery. At that stage, India Red needed 32 runs off 23 deliveries.
Even on Friday, Praveen Kumar celebrated his elevation to the opener's spot by hitting India Green's Munaf Patel for a six and a four in the very first over of the match before nicking one to wicketkeeper in the next. "Be it batting or bowling, I look to attack from the start and put the pressure on the opponent," he adds.
That's what he did on Thursday when he castled India Blue's Ajinkya Rahane on the very first ball. "I knew he would be tentative and decided to bowl him a fast inswinger.
"I have got about five to six wickets so far off the first ball of an innings. Madhya Pradesh's Sachin Dholpure was once bowled on the very first bowl in both innings of an under-19 match," says the speedster, who took nine wickets in his Ranji trophy debut against Haryana and went on to capture 41 wickets and score 368 runs and help him team win the title.
He came back the next season to take another 49 wickets in a season. That performance saw him selected in the India 'A' side for the tour of Kenya where he scored 165 runs at an average of 41.25 and took 9 wickets.
Ask Praveen Kumar about the pressure of bowling at the death and he says, "What's there to fear? You have to bowl anyway. Instead of getting under pressure, just go for the block hole."
India Blue and Mumbai coach Praveen Amre, however, thinks that the youngster has a very good cricketing brain and can play according to the situation. "He has won a couple of games from virtually lost causes while playing for Air India."
Kumar has also caught the attention of the national selectors but it remains to be seen how this Uttar Pradesh youngster translates that potential into a success story.