Ranji Trophy: Prateek, bread-winner to match-winner
Last month, Prateek Jain visited his hometown in Sagar in Madhya Pradesh to be with his ailing father Arvind Kumar, who has been bedridden since 2018 after suffering a haemorrhage. Consequently, Arvind had to wind up his modest business and the family went through harrowing times. Since then, they have banked on Prateek’s exploits on the cricket field to get them out of financial doldrums.
On his part, Prateek has toiled hard to make his mark as a left-arm pacer. He has had a fairly decent stint with the Bijapur Bulls franchise at the Karnataka Premier League. However, breaking into Karnataka’s heavy-duty first-class team proved to be an arduous task.
It was during his most recent trip back home, when he was informed that he would be making his much-awaited Ranji Trophy comeback during the Karnataka vs Himachal Pradesh league encounter in Mysore. He impressed with figures of 3/54, and has not looked back since. He had made his first-class debut last year against Gujarat, before getting relegated to the sidelines.
Not surprisingly, Prateek has been putting his best foot forward in every opportunity since his comeback. Against Railways, the 25-year-old finished with figures of 4/14 in 13 marathon overs that comprised 7 maidens, as Railways slumped to 98/6 from 49 overs.
First up, he trapped Railways opener Mrunal Devdhar, before cleaning up Saurabh Singh, comeback man Mahesh Rawat and young wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Mor in a splendid burst in the afternoon session. The Railways batsmen’s diffident approach hardly helped matters.
They also didn’t seem to learn from the errors committed in their previous home encounter against Madhya Pradesh, where they were guilty of perpetually playing on the back foot.
On such tracks, it’s imperative that a batsman takes a positive step forward and play on the front foot. Or else, as Prateek’s victims found out, they would always be in danger of either getting trapped lbw or out bowled. The indifferent bounce notwithstanding, Prateek insisted that this pitch would aid Karnataka’s stroke-players. “If you see, this wicket is not all that conducive for pace bowling. I was just disciplined and bowled consistent lines, and benefited from the low bounce,” he explained.
Having prised out 16 scalps in Ranji Trophy so far, Prateek is fulfilling a deep-rooted childhood ambition. While most of his friends have quit cricket, Prateek remained steadfast and made seamless progressions.
“He is a humble guy and a whole-hearted cricketer. Even during the last two seasons, when he did not get a chance with Karnataka team, he would bowl tirelessly in the nets, at times for over two hours without complaining. He is this fun-loving, jovial guy with a toothy grin,” says Liyan Khan, his friend and Bijapur Bulls teammate.
Brief Scores: Railways 98/6 (Arindam Ghosh 32 not out, Prateek Jain 4/14, Abhimanyu Mithun 2/18) vs Karnataka.