A broken thumb and injured shoulder kept Rajasthan batsman Robin Bist on the sidelines in the last domestic season.
Multiple injuries during a space of only five matches not only denied Bist hits in the middle,but took away some crucial opportunities of making his case strong in front of the selectors.
After entering the elite 1000-run club in the 2011/12 season,Bist was emerging to be a fine Indian prospect before a thumb injury crashed his hopes. The injury denied him a spot in India’s A tour to New Zealand in 2012,and kept him out of action for three months.
On return,he notched up a century in the first innings of the Irani Trophy (2012) match against the Rest of India (ROI) and a well-compiled half-century in the second,that too against a bowling attack featuring the likes of Umesh Yadav,Ishant Sharma and Pragyan Ojha. The next season was promising to be a good one for the talented batsman,but he had very little clue about the road ahead. Injuries came to haunt him again,this time even worse.
“I got three injuries in one Ranji season (2012/13). My right thumb,which was injured earlier too,broke again last season. I couldn’t play and was infected with viral fever,which forced me into the hospital for a day. After dealing with both of them,I appeared for a game,but again got hit on my shoulder which tore my ligament.
“The only thing which went wrong last season was my injuries,which kept me out of action and deteriorated my chances further. The worst part was that all these things happened in five matches. It was indeed a very bad phase for me to sit out. I wanted to be out there,wanted to bat and wanted to score runs,” informs the right-hander who could only muster 348 runs in the six Ranji Trophy matches he played.
Cricket-the-leveller was right in front of Bist,who after scoring in plenty in the seasons gone by was finding it difficult to even get games under his belt. In desperate times,the right-hander went up to his skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar and got much-needed ‘direction’ for the road ahead
“I went up to Kanitkar and told him that Dada (as he is fondly called by the team) I was so close to play for India,and now I am so far. What do I do? He told me to not think about things beyond my control and try doing changes which can improve my chances and get better. He told me that its now up to me about how I want to prepare and become better.
One does remember these things,but I made it a point to note them down and keep working in that direction. I came to Delhi with my head down,but a strong determination to return with a bang,” recalls Bist.
With a disturbed head on his dipping shoulders,Bist returned to his hometown Delhi,where he started playing cricket,with very little clue about how his homecoming will turn out. He was in an introspect mode for the first week,but hit the ground hard and then there was no looking back. He played some local tournaments in the capital,and got the ‘right touch’.
“I played so much local cricket in Delhi this year and scored eight centuries in various tournaments. When you play in Delhi,you tend to increase the range of your shots. During the time these tournaments are played,seamers hardly play a role. So,in order to succeed here you have to play spin well. I was never at trouble facing the seamer,but wanted to master the art of playing spin to convert 50s into 100s and 100s into 150s.
“This you can only do when you dominate against the spinners and then score at a healthy rate. I wanted to prove a point for myself,not for anyone else. I worked really hard during my time in Delhi,” says Bist who could only manage two half-centuries last season.
Lean and strong
The 25-year old was never short of runs or confidence,it was the injuries which affected and deteriorated his chances. He was in no mood to leave any chink in the armour,and made it a point to add strength and speed to his body. With a very lean and strong physique now,Bist asserts that he is stronger than ever.
“Now I am stronger from last year. If the ball hits me,it will break. The latest elbow injury which I got playing against the KSCA (Karnataka State Cricket Association) in a practice game could have well broken my elbow,but my body is in such great shape right now that it took me no time to recover. If i was 10% fit last year,then I can well say that I am 90% this year.
“I was leaning down first to stay brisk on my feet and did a lot of strength at the same time. It is really difficult to cut down and maintain your muscles at the same time. I worked very hard for that and have achieved the desired results. I was 72kg last year and now I am 65 kg,with a lot of strength in my body,” informs Bist who will leave for Jaipur for the ‘skill camp’ on August 16.