Hyderabad, Oct 2 (PTI) Rachin Ravindra found the night of July 14, 2019, one of the longest and hardest to endure as he watched New Zealand’s heartbreaking defeat to England in the ODI World Cup final sitting in a Bengaluru pub.
Ravindra, then all of 19 was on an annual trip to India with his father’s cricket club and the roller-coaster experience of watching the final is still etched in his memory.
New Zealand losing that final to England on the boundary count-back rule divides opinion to this day. Rachin, whose first name is inspired by the first names of Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid, remembers that night as it was yesterday.
As a budding cricketer dreaming to represent New Zealand one day, the Indian-origin circketer was shattered with the outcome of the game and the desire to represent New Zealand grew stronger.
Cut to 2023, he is among the fast rising cricketers in the New Zealand set-up. Primarily a batter, who also takes his left-arm spin very seriously, Rachin has already made a statement with a gutsy 97 as an opener in the World Cup warm-up against Pakistan here last week.
Born to Indian parents in Wellington, Rachin has a strong connect with the cricket mad nation with his family roots in Bengaluru. It was fitting that he made his Test debut in India two years ago and now he is set to make his World Cup debut here.
“Looking back on my Test debut, it was a special and emotional time. Being able to play in India, the fanfare around the game here, to be able to experience that is pretty special.
“My parents come from Bangalore and it is amazing to play a World Cup here,” the 23-year-old PTI referring to the Kanpur Test which he was able to draw for his team while batting alongside number 11 Ajaz Patel.
From watching previous World Cup as a fanboy to now being part of the next one, it has been a pretty “cool” journey for Rachin.
“It is actually quite a story. My dad takes a bunch of age group boys to India (annually) and we were in Bangalore on a senior trip. We were watching the final (2019) in a stock exchange bar.
“I watched the whole final. It was unbelievable and such a rollercoaster experience with the high and lows of the game. Having Indian supporters around us was pretty cool. It is an experience I will never forget.”
New Zealand is probably the most liked team on the planet but on that night, no pleasantries were exchanged in that bar. A couple of days ago, New Zealand had ended India’s run in the semifinals.
“All of us were New Zealanders, so we were massively going for the Black Caps but quite a few Indians were going for England, probably because of the emotional hangover from the semifinal.
“That created a nice little atmosphere there as we all know how the game went,” recalled Rachin.
Did he think then that he will be part of the 2023 batch?
“It has been a great ride. You always think one day you might get a chance. Being a 19-year old at that time, few years into professional cricket, you have those dreams to be part of a World Cup. It is pretty cool how it has come to fruition,” he said.
Rachin, who opens for Wellington back home but bats in the middle-order for New Zealand, feels the experience of playing age-group cricket around the country will help him in this World Cup as the team travels all around India for its nine league games.
“For sure. Any sort of experience playing in India goes a long way. Grateful for these tours of India in my younger days. Goes a long way in playing spin and how to bowl in these conditions, face different type of seamers on different wickets. “The conditions over here are so different to what we get back home. I think it will definitely come in handy. Prior to this World Cup, I have played in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, up North. It gives you a bit of sense of belonging and calms you down knowing you have played here,” said Rachin, whose father Ravi Krishnamurthy has been his coach since childhood.
Rachin might not get to open in the tournament proper like he did against Pakistan but he has already made a statement. However, he is fully aware of his role in the side. “Naah (laughs),” he responded when asked about opening the innings regularly. “It was a nice wicket to bat on. To be fair I do open for my domestic side, have always been an opener so nice to get the opportunity for New Zealand. Whatever role I get hopefully I would be able to do it,” he added.