MANGALURU: The city on Monday rejoiced at the selection of Kannaur Lokesh Rahul into the Indian national cricket squad that will tour Australia in November.
Rahul’s parents K N Lokesh, head of the department of Civil Engineering in National Institute at the Technology Karnataka (NITK), and mother Rajeshwari, an associate professor at Mangalore University’s undergraduate college, were on Cloud 9. The couple were in Bangalore making arrangements for their daughter Bhavana’s engagement when they spoke to Express.
Lokesh said, “The most memorable match that I had seen was when he belted two double tons back to back when he was playing for under -13 Karnataka team. He was so young that I had to escort him to the grounds in Bangalore sometimes helping him with his heavy kit. But after that resounding double tons, there was no looking back for him. He captained under -13, under -15, under-17 and under-19 squads. He was also selected for the India under -19 World Cup.”
“I remember he had a cricket bat as his toy right from the age of 3 and played his first hard ball cricket match at the age of 11. I could see even at that age he was focused and determined which sometimes surprised me and my wife Rajeshwari,” he told .
Prof Rajeshwari agrees that he never faltered in following his passion of cricket. When he had an injury and was advised rest, he was anxious to get back to the field, she added. His sister Bhavana, who works for Coal India Limited, was his biggest fan, Prof Lokesh said.
Prof Lakshman Nandigiri, a senior faculty at NITK said that this was a momentous occasion for NITK as he was a campus boy till he moved to Bangalore for his undergraduate education. I admired his style, he said.
PV Shashikanth, who coached Rahul from 2007-2010, said the boy’s technique and concentration were sound. “He watches the ball even when it hits the bat which enables him to keep the ball at the ground level and beyond the reach of the fielder. I had seen the same technique in Rahul Dravid,” he added.
Mohan PV, a cricket aficionado, said he would put a large hoarding of Rahul in one of the main junctions in the city. Two other cricketing greats who have played for India from Mangalore were Budhi Kundran (wicketkeeper-batsman) and Ravi Shastri.