Life hasn’t been a bed of roses for Akash Deep. The fast bowler had to move to Durgapur in West Bengal from Bihar in his teens and overcome resistance from his family to pursue cricket.
While his father, who was a school teacher, did not want him to play cricket, Akash still managed to chase his dreams ‘rather secretly’. But his father passed away about five years ago, and a couple of months after his demise, Akash lost his elder brother, too. With no one to support the family, he had to head back home.
But he could not let go of the game. Soon, he was back in West Bengal, featuring in divisional cricket in the maidans of Kolkata. Akash gradually made it to Bengal’s under-23 team before consistent performances earned him a spot in the senior Bengal team three years ago.
He was part of Royal Challengers Bangalore as a net bowler last season and the franchise picked him for Rs 20 lakh in the IPL mega auctions last month.
Akash stamped his class at the DY Patil Stadium on Wednesday, claiming three wickets, as RCB restricted Kolkata Knight Riders to 128, before claiming a three-wicket win.
Even though he conceded 45 runs, Akash struck off his first ball, dismissing opener Venkatesh Iyer. Rahane also fell cheaply, getting caught by Shahbaz off Mohammed Siraj. With two wickets down for 32, KKR needed to rebuild, but Akash – who claimed three for 45 – removed Nitish Rana.
Akash Deep was part of Royal Challengers Bangalore as a net bowler last season and the franchise picked him for Rs 20 lakh in the IPL mega auctions last month. – Sportzpics
“The game plan was to bowl at hard length. There was a plan given to me and I was focusing on that. I backed myself and played to my strength, and did not think too much about what level I was playing at,” Akash said, “I just went in with the mindset that I have to do what I have been doing all this while…”
And, that approach helped. Last Sunday, he made his debut for Royal Challengers Bangalore – against Punjab Kings. Even though he claimed a wicket, Akash looked jittery. “I was under pressure,” he admitted.
“The short ball is my strength, but that day, I was not able to execute the plans. I analysed my performance after the game and realised where I was lacking,” Akash said.
With the wicket aiding the fast bowlers, Akash aimed to make the most of the opportunity with the new ball. “We were getting help from the wicket. It was important to pick wickets with the new ball and that plan worked. I am glad I could help the team,” he said.
Being with RCB last season helped Akash get a fair idea of the IPL’s dynamics. From being just another domestic cricketer, Akash got an opportunity to exchange thoughts and ideas with some of the top international cricketers. And those experiences have helped him cope with the pressure.
It has taken Akash immense courage and determination to come this far, and after enjoying success in the IPL, he doesn’t want to look back.