Robin Bist presses his palm across the India A logo printed on his practice jersey as he catches his breath after a lengthy batting session on the first day of the camp at the Ferozeshah Kotla ahead of the tour of West Indies.
The 24-year olds involuntary action,perhaps,also betrays his truest emotions about what it means to be part of an Indian team for the first time. It is a big deal for me. Today is a significant day for me because it is the first time I am wearing an India jersey. I have been in the standby list once,but I have never made it to an India A or an India Under-19 squad, Bist said on Sunday.
The sheer weight of his runs in first-class cricket last season earned him a place in the India A squad. His aggregate of 1331 with five hundreds and an equal number of fifties topped everyone else. It was 274 runs more than what Abhinav Mukund totaled and among other distant dots in his rear view mirror were his other teammates in the India A squad Cheteshwar Pujara,Rohit Sharma,Manoj Tiwary,Ajinkya Rahane and Shikar Dhawan.
Impressive as these statistics are,they dont necessarily make Bist the best of the lot. While Pujara,a proven run-machine,was making a comeback following surgery,Sharma,Tiwary and Rahane missed parts of the first-class season because they were part of the Indias Test or ODI squad.
Most significantly,all these young batsmen have either played Tests or ODIs for India. Bist is hoping to make his India A debut in a crowded batting line-up during the month-long tour beginning on June 2.
This is a very important tour for me. I know that if I get an opportunity and score lots of runs,I could be knocking on the doors of the Indian team. There are some very fine batsmen in this India A squad but after becoming the top-scorer in first-class cricket,I back myself and I believe I have what it takes to be considered among the best, Bist said.
A glance at his career path will reveal that the tough-as-nails Bisht has overcome the odds. When he realised that runs scored in hot weather tournaments or Under-19 camps werent valued when age group teams were picked to represent Delhi,Bist thought of quitting. His brother,who played for Rajasthan,suggested shifting loyalties. Bisht had to give up on comforts such as a plush home and a chauffeur-driven car. He moved base to rustic Nagaur in west Rajasthan and travelled in autorickshaws,state transport buses as he went from one venue to another scoring runs in inter-district games to re-establish himself. The hard work and sacrifices paid-off.
He did return to a Delhi team the Daredevils but didnt get a game this season. Bist believes that given an opportunity in the IPL, hell prove that he is no slouch when it comes to finding the boundaries. Right now his priorities are different. The need of the hour is to establish himself in an India jersey.