Duleep Trophy 2022-23 final – High-flying B Indrajith looking for red-ball step up after consistent run

B Indrajith has functioned on autopilot in domestic red-ball cricket in recent times, racking up the runs season after season. In the ongoing Duleep Trophy, Indrajith has been in a similar mode, following up his 65 for South Zone in the semi-final with a breezy 125-ball 118 that gave his side the lead in the final in Coimbatore.

Indrajith is arguably the best player of spin in the Tamil Nadu side – he is adept at both using his feet and executing a variety of sweeps. On Thursday, Indrajith dominated Shams Mulani, the highest wicket-taker in the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy season, and his Mumbai team-mate Tanush Kotian with those two options.

“I’m very happy to get a hundred in a Duleep Trophy final,” Indrajith told ESPNcricinfo. “I didn’t look at that [big] names in the opposition and wanted to set it up. If I get out early, I was okay [with it]. If I get my eye in, I want to make it big. Initially, the runs flowed for me, so I felt like I was in the zone.

“Once I got 15-20 runs, I got the feeling that I was middling the ball and I wanted to make full use of it. I more or less followed the same pattern I have [in red-ball cricket]. Against the spinners, whenever I had the opportunity, I used my feet, and after that, I got the back-foot options. I was looking for runs, but I didn’t take too many risks for it.”

Given his body of work in red-ball cricket, Indrajith was expecting an India A call-up for the home series against New Zealand A, but he was omitted from the squads. While Indrajith admitted to being disappointed, he took the snub in his stride and decided not to put undue pressure on himself.

“To be honest, I was expecting an India A call-up, but there was disappointment,” Indrajith said. “But I was fine after two days. I didn’t want to prove myself to anyone because that creates pressure on myself. So instead of that, I followed the same things I normally do in domestic cricket. But I will remember these things when I get that [call-up]. When I was in the thirties and forties, I knew this was the time when I should make it big; I need to do more. But those things come into my mind only when I’m batting or when I need to push on.

“Again, certain things when I expect it’s not happening. Again, I didn’t expect that I won’t be there for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy… that [disappointment] is also definitely there. That was even harder for me to take, but it settled down in two days. Wherever and wherever I get the opportunity, I will try to put runs on the board. Sometimes when you’re not getting things where you expect to, an opportunity might come up elsewhere. I just need to keep doing my job and keep scoring runs.”

To make so many comebacks and to make the latest comeback for the World Cup at this age… Obviously, Dinesh other (brother) had a goal, but to do it and be part of the World Cup squad is a very big thing.

Indrajith draws inspiration from his Tamil Nadu teammate

Indrajith has drawn inspiration from his Tamil Nadu team-mate and close friend Dinesh Karthik, who has surmounted tremendous odds to make India’s T20 World Cup squad, in his quest to earn higher honours.

“To make so many comebacks and to make the latest comeback for the World Cup at this age… Obviously, Dinesh other (brother) had a goal, but to do it and be part of the World Cup squad is a very big thing. When you see him from close quarters, you know how hard he has worked for this. Looking at him, you also get the confidence [that you can achieve your goal]. To see him make this comeback is an inspiration to me. So, when [tough] situations come, you keep fighting and working hard to get that place [in the team].”

Indrajith got a taste of top-flight cricket in IPL 2022 when he was with Kolkata Knight Riders in what was his first IPL season. He, however, managed only 21 runs in three innings at a strike rate of 70. He was asked to open in two games and was bounced out both times but believes he will get better with experience.

“IPL is a step up and you play with international cricketers from around the world,” Indrajith said. “Bowling, batting – all levels are high. It was a great learning curve but [in] the few games I got, it didn’t go the way I would have liked it to go. Not every time you will get a good start, nor every time things will go smoothly in T20 cricket.

“No complaints. At that level, you wait for the opportunity, and you shouldn’t pick and choose to open or bat in the middle. I’ve played more in the middle in domestic cricket, but you have to adapt to opening the batting. I think once I get more games and get to play different roles, I will learn more.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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