Bengal pacer Akash Deep who made his IPL debut with the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the 15th edition of the tournament earlier this year said veteran India cricketer and Bengal teammate Manoj Tiwary told him that he if could impress Virat Kohli then he has a good chance of even playing for India. The right-arm seamer was first picked as a replacement by Royal Challengers Bangalore for the injured Washington Sundar in IPL 2021. He didn’t get a game last year but just like Tiwary had said, he did manage to leave an impression on Kohli and was later on picked in the mega auction for his base price of ₹20 lakh by RCB.
“Manoj (Tiwary) bhaiyya said, ‘Virat is India’s captain, and if you manage to impress him, you will get to play in the IPL next season, and might play for India as well because you have all the ingredients to become a good fast bowler.’ That was my goal, and I managed to do well in the practice matches and was later picked in the auction,” Akash Deep told The Indian Express.
Akash Deep, who is leading Bengal’s bowling attack against Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy semi-final, made his IPL debut against Punjab Kings. He was given the cap by none other than Kohli himself. Akash Deep said it was a dream come true.
“As a kid, when we used to watch the likes of Kohli and Dhoni on TV, I used to think whether I would ever get a chance to meet them in my life. In my mind, they were like superheroes. And from the place I come from, in my wildest imagination, I never thought that someday, I would end up sharing the dressing room with Kohli. Sab sapna hai (Everything is a dream).
“I was shocked that he knows where I am from, my journey, struggle and everything. While giving me the cap, he said, ‘You deserve to be here. Just keep doing what you have done in the past. Just enjoy yourself, stick to your process.’ It was a very emotional moment,” said Akash Deep.
The 25-year-old cricketer picked up 5 wickets in 5 matches he got to play in this year’s IPL. He relished the opportunity of sharing the dressing room with Australia’s experienced pacer Josh Hazlewood.
“Entire IPL 2022 was a learning experience for me, and the moment we were out of the bubble, I followed Josh everywhere. I spent most of my time with him. It was surreal because I used to watch his bowling on YouTube and now I was bowling in tandem with him.”
“Most of the discussions used to be about fast bowling. The off-stump line, his mental strength, how he sets up batsmen, his game preparation, workload management, how to deal with injuries,” he added.