Kolkata: From Deepak Patel to Ish Sodhi, New Zealand has had at least six cricketers of Indian origin who had donned the national team colours over the years. Rachin Ravindra, a 21-year-old rookie allrounder with a mature head on his young shoulders, is going to be the latest addition as he is part of the squad for the two-Test series against England - to be followed by the World Test Championship final against India.
A batting allrounder who is also a handy left-arm spinner, Ravindra was born to Indian parents in Wellington and caught the fancy of New Zealand Cricket’s talent spotters since his Under-19 days - having represented the country in the 2018 Youth World Cup.
Ravindra hit a century for New Zealand A against the West Indies just on the eve of the selection. “Rachin’s been earmarked as a star of the future since his Under-19 days and we’ve been really encouraged by the advancement in his game this season, with both bat and ball,” Gary Stead, Head Coach of New Zealand team said when the squad was selected sometime back.
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“He’s obviously an opening option, but also has the ability to bat in the middle order which combined with his left-arm finger spin make him a great asset to our squad,’’ Stead said.
He is one of the three newcomers to the New Zealand squad alongwith swing bowler Jacob Duffy and in-form batsman Devon Conway.
Ravindra’s father Ravi Krishnamurthy, a software system architect from Bengaluru who moved to New Zealand in the 1990s, is the founder of the Hutt Hawks Club in New Zealand, which brings players over to India every summer. Some Kiwi internationals like James Neesham and Tom Blundell have also been part of these tours.
“I’ve trained, played at RDT (Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh) every year in the last four years during our winter,” Ravindra was quoted as saying in a regional publication in Telengana.
The report also quoted one of the coaches at the Andhra Pradesh cricket academy, Khatib Syed Shahabuddin showering praise on Ravindra. “He (Rachin Ravindra) was part of the Hutt Hawks contingent that used to train at the Rural Development Trust at Anantapur for the last four years. As a young cricketer, he showed a lot of promise and hunger to excel as a left-handed bat and left-arm spin.”
Ravindra, whose unusual first name ‘Rachin’ is apparently inspired by the names of Indian legends Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, had come to India with the New Zealand team for the 2016 U-19 World Cup. He had then brushed shoulders with the likes of Rishabh Pant and Washington Sundar.
Five years later, will he get his first chance to shine on the ultimate stage against the senior Indian team? We will know the answer in less than a month’s time.