From Gopalganj to Kolkata to India ‘A’: Pacer Mukesh Kumar’s cricketing journey

When he was a newbie in the Bengal team, fast bowler Mukesh Kumar got some pep-talk and advice rolled into one from senior fast bowler Ashok Dinda. “Do well on the field so the dressing room cheers for you but don’t do well just for one game.”

Taking a cue from Dinda’s words, Mukesh Kumar took 5 wickets in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals against Madhya Pradesh and made a mark for himself. On Wednesday, the Bengal fast bowler was named in the India ‘A’ squad for the four-day games against New Zealand ‘A’ that will begin next month. New Zealand ‘A’ will be touring India for three four-day matches and three one-day games.

On Wednesday, the Bengal fast bowler was named in the India ‘A’ squad.

Originally from Kakarkund in the Gopalganj district of Bihar, Mukesh had to shift to Kolkata in 2011-12 after meeting with an accident. His father called him to take up a job in Kolkata. His father had a taxi business there. He started his cricketing career in Kolkata by playing second division league and then the first division. Before this, Mukesh had played Under-19 cricket for Bihar.

Talking about his experience in Vision 2020, a project of the Cricket Association of Bengal, Mukesh said, “Out of the 200-250 club cricketers, I got selected in the camp.” Waqar Younis, Muttiah Muralitharan, and VVS Laxman were appointed as coaches for the camp.

He has played 26 first-class matches and has taken 95 wickets at an economy of 2.73. At the Vision 2020 camp, while the selectors were calling out his name, Mukesh was in the washroom. He went up to the selectors when he returned and explained why he took time to respond. The selectors gave him the chance to bowl. He got selected as Waqar Younis was impressed by his bowling.

In each and every stage of his career, Mukesh has had the mentorship of great cricketers and able coaches. He was groomed by former fast bowler Ranadeb Bose. He also had the support of Joydeep Mukherjee throughout. Talking about mentorship, Mukesh also said that having made his debut under Manoj Tiwari, he has found constant support from both Tiwari and Arun Lal. He has also been taking tips from Wriddhiman Saha to effectively improve his game.

Recently, before going to England, Mohammad Shami called both Mukesh and Akash Deep to give them some guidance.
Mukesh faced pressure from his family to get a job. He said, “In Bihar when you tell your parents that you want to pursue cricket, they always say ‘no’. They wanted me to study and get a decent job.”

He tried getting into the army but failed thrice in the physical trials. Cricket worked for him.

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