CHENNAI: Monday had ended on a very happy note for Andhra, going by the way they were celebrating at the Murugappa Polytechnic ground in the evening.
They had steamrolled Gujarat for their fifth win in Group C, sealing a quarterfinal berth in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Ricky Bhui was one among those jostling for the team selfie. The 21-year-old hadn’t gotten a chance to show his mettle (he bats two-down), but his joy was as palpable as it could be.
It was a moment that Bhui might perhaps be familiar with. His blue jersey may very well have metamorphosed into an orange-and-black one, with memories being jogged back to 2016, when the Sunrisers Hyderabad won the IPL.
Bhui is one among the many players whose lives in this league have been relegated to the periphery. Four years without ever being in the playing XI, after all, is a long time.
As morose as that notion might sound, those four seasons have helped round out the right-hander, both in an emotional and professional capacity.
“The time has definitely helped me,” explained the sole Andhra player to feature in a franchise’s roster this season. “I’ve interacted with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Kane Williamson. The latter used to help me make adjustments to my guard.”
This technical tinkering hasn’t only been restricted to moulding Bhui into a better 20-over batsman, going by his recollections of mentor VVS Laxman.
“He used to tell me that these leanings aren’t meant for only this league; they’re to turn me into a better player and a quality domestic batsman.”
Bhui’s time with the Sunrisers hasn’t been an all-work-and-no-play narrative. Team bonding, he stressed, has always figured among their top priorities.
“We have many such exercises, go-karting and other things. I was the designated translator for Mustafizur Rahman, since his English vocabulary was restricted to ‘problem’ and ‘no problem’. I used to help him set the field, since he used sign language to communicate with the others.
“One particular thing I will never forget is our ‘fine meeting’. We collect `1,000 every time someone does something wrong, like turn up late for practice or forget stuff in our kit-bags. I was once fined by my trainer for singing loudly at night; he had put up in the adjacent room.”
Unlike the Sunrisers, Bhui’s gotten chances from Andhra, and has made them count. Despite his team’s failures in their past two domestic events, he notched up 553 (in six matches, second-highest for Andhra) and 227 runs (in five matches, highest for Andhra) during the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Trophy.
“Obviously I want to turn out for the Sunrisers this time. Apart from that, I want to build on this form to enter the India A set-up, and then hopefully make my way to the top.”