KOCHI:Sunil Oasis is one of the most talented cricketers to have come out of Kerala and is still among the leading run-getters for the state in first-class cricket. In the 1990s and early 2000s when Kerala was still to become a force to reckon within the domestic circuit, Sunil led the team from the front with his all-round ability.
Fast forward several years, 45-year-old Sunil has become a district champion again -- but in an altogether different sport! This time around, the willow has been replaced by a badminton racquet and the red cherry by the shuttlecock. Proving he is equally adept at the racquet sport, Sunil won two men's doubles titles at the Kozhikode District Badminton Championship the other day.
But for Sunil, who won the veterans' event (for those aged 45 and above) with Rana Divakaran and masters' event (for those aged 35 and above) with Joy K J, badminton is not a new love. "I started out with badminton playing matches happening around my home in Bilathikulam. If things had gone differently, I might have ended up a badminton star, instead of a cricketer," he said.
In fact, Sunil had reached the semifinal of the Kozhikode district U-15 championship in the mid-1980s. "I was battered in the semis by my friend Jaseel P Ismail who went on to become a five-time national champion and one of the finest doubles players from India. Still, I could have made it to the district team had I won the loser's final match against Fine C Dathan," reminisced Sunil.
But Sunil narrowly lost out to Fine, who is now a coach and international umpire, and failed to make the cut. "The very next day, still disappointed, I attended a selection trials to the district U-16 cricket team and got picked," he said. Sunil went on to have a fruitful career in cricket, but still holds badminton close to his heart.
"Even when I moved to Chennai due to cricketing reasons, I played badminton in the evenings. So, I never lost touch with the game completely," said Sunil, whose 13-year-old daughter Nayana is pursuing a career in badminton and is being trained by Indonesian coach Yusandi at Malabar Badminton Academy.
His veteran doubles partner Rana, 49, said it is Sunil who urged him to try a hand in the championship. "We play together at Police Club in Kozhikode and Sunil wanted to see where we stood in terms of our game," said Rana, who himself was a district-level player during his school and college days.
Sunil, Rana and Joy will return to the court in the first week of August when the state championship will take place. This time, they will be gunning for the state title!
The First Game
Sunil had reached the semifinal of the Kozhikode district U-15 championship in the 1980s.But, he was battered in the semis by Jaseel P Ismail who went on to become a national champion