Roll back the books of cricket and one will find only a handful of cricketers from Orissa who have made the big cut. The state of Orissa has been best known to have produced cricketers like Debasis Mohanty and Shiv Sundar Das who have gone on to represent the country after going through the rigours of domestic cricket.
Years have passed since and not many have managed to don the national colours. Ask 24-year old Biplab Samantray how much this IPL experience means to him and you will know how eager he is to take his state’s name forward in international cricket. It might be a long way to go for the middle-order bat before he achieves his goal, but it is only baby steps that will help Samantray take the giant leap. (Also Read: SRH vs RR - M68 Report & Stats: IPL 2013)
On a day when bowlers made merry at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in Hyderabad on Friday, Samantray managed to gather himself a calm and composed half century that helped his side register a defendable total of 136 after being reduced to five for three at one stage. An important knock for Samantray and for the team as at the end of it all, SRH got those vital two points on the board with a 23-run victory. Samantray after his heartening half century was kind enough for a chat with IPLT20.com, wherein he spoke about his knock against the Rajasthan Royals, the advice he took with a lot of keenness from his former Odisha coach, Michael Bevan and his hopes of getting Odisha on the world map.
Excerpts from the interview
Your highest score for SRH in the IPL this season, you should be a happy man!
Absolutely! It was a very satisfying knock for me. It was a crucial match for the team. I am glad that I could score a half century and would like to thank God for helping us end up on the winning side.
How important was this knock for you, especially after not scoring regularly in the opportunities you got?
Honestly speaking, I needed this kind of an innings to give myself the confidence that I could play a vital role in the batting line-up. There are a lot of quality batsmen in our team and I had to make the most of the opportunities I got. I have not had the best of times with the bat, but I am happy that I could help my team today (against RR).
After an early wobble, how did you cope up with the pressure of batting through the innings?
It was difficult, but I was prepared. We had been in a similar situation against the Pune Warriors India earlier in the tournament and I was there at the middle trying to steady the innings that time. I got out on 37 that day and did not bat through the innings. Today, I was prepared to play the role of batting through the innings and I am glad I was there till the 19th over.
The wickets in Hyderbad have been on the slower side. Was it a tough wicket to bat?
It was a difficult wicket to bat on initially as the wicket was slow. The pressure was on us to perform as they had bowled well at the start of the innings. We lost crucial wickets and were five for the loss of three wickets at one point of time. I told myself that I had to bat through the innings no matter how many balls I consumed.
And, you put up a half century stand with Darren Sammy. What were the talks between you two at that time?
Darren Sammy helped me a lot as he took the role of the aggressor. He asked me to play through the innings. He just told me that we needed one partnership to get back the innings under control and we did exactly that.
We are nearing the end of the tournament, what have you learnt from this IPL?
The IPL is like a dream come true for me. As a youngster, I can ask for nothing more when I have the best of facilities and the best of knowledge from the best of players at disposal. I need to make the most of the opportunities I get and make a meaningful contribution for the team’s success. At the moment the focus will be to end the tournament on a high. We still have one match to go and the team’s focus will be on that to assure ourselves a place in the Playoffs.
As a kid, who have been your cricketing idols?
From where I belong, Odisha – undoubtedly Debasis Mohanty and SS Das who have represented the country are my idols. I know there have not been many from our state who have made the grand stage and I want to take Odisha to the next level and place it in the world map. I want to make my state proud. In international cricket, Brian Lara and Michael Bevan have been my cricketing idols.
Michael Bevan was coach of the Odisha cricket team in the 2011-12 season. What did you learn from one of your idols?
It was a great experience to learn under the guidance of Michael Bevan. He spent a lot of hours with me talking about cricket and trying to fine tune my skills. He taught me to have a clear mind and play my natural game. He also asked me to play according to the situation of the game, may it be any form of cricket. I feel I tried to put whatever Bevan told me against the Rajasthan Royals. I played myself in, played according to the situation and played my natural game.