“Hold a cricket bat, close your eyes, keep visualizing the bowlers whom you are likely to face on the cricket field and do shadow practice,” is what VVS Laxman told youngster Shaik Rasheed during the ICC U-19 World Cup.
Rasheed, the vice-captain of the side, feels the advice from the legendary batter improved his batting skills in the semifinal and the final. “After the first league match, I tested positive. There were too many negative thoughts. I was finding it difficult to handle the situation. But, Laxman sir (who was with the Indian team during the World Cup) kept on talking to all of us (whoever tested positive) during the quarantine period and kept encouraging us, “he said Sportstar after returning to India.
Rasheed with NCA Director and former India batter VVS Laxman. – SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
“We were fortunate to have such a wonderful support staff, including our head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar, bowling coach Sairaj Bahutule. I remember even Kanitkar Sir telling me – we don’t look at you to score runs. We would love to see you stay at the wicket as long as possible, ”the 18-year-old said.
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Rasheed started playing gully cricket in Dilsukhnagar (Hyderabad) when he was just eight. He even played for Sportive Cricket Club in the HCA League. He became more serious about the sport once his family shifted to Guntur more than a decade ago.
”I owe everything to my father. He never made me feel uncomfortable. Whatever I asked, he always provided despite the financial problems, ”Rasheed said.
“There was never a thought of quitting cricket because of the poor financial background of my family. My father and I always felt cricket is the way out for us, ”he said.
“I am always grateful to J. Krishna Rao sir (Mangalagiri ACA Residential Academy). He ensured that I didn’t miss anything in continuing my passion in my early days, ”said Rasheed, who started playing the game for the first time after watching Sachin Tendulkar in action against Australia at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium in Hyderabad.
When did you feel that you can make it big in cricket? “Honestly, the 125 I scored for Guntur against Krishna in the ACA Inter-district (under-19) tournament last season gave me the impetus to look ahead,” he said.
There was no change in Rasheed’s technique as he absorbed the sport professionally. “My focus is more on mental preparations. Adapt as quickly to the given conditions than think more about the technique,” the young talent said.
Reflecting on the U-19 World Cup campaign in the West Indies, Rasheed said ever since they won the Asia Cup (he reminds it was the same playing eleven in World Cup final too), they knew they were going to be the World Cup champions too .
Rasheed said his priority was to stay on the wicket as long as possible and not think too much about individual goals. “That’s the reason I never really felt bad even if I missed a century (out for 94) in the World Cup semifinal. Right from my early days, contributing to the team’s win was always my priority, ”said the huge fan of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.
“Yes, definitely winning the World Cup is a memorable feeling but still a long way to go as I chase the dream to play for India seniors in Test cricket,” he said.
“It will be challenging for me to adapt to the four-day format as I am not that familiar with it. But, when you dream big, you have to adjust as quickly as possible, ”Rasheed said, adding there was pressure being the vice-captain. “Honestly, yes there was some pressure as you are one of the key members whom the team looked up to. But that also meant rising to the challenges and I am glad to have contributed my bit in the team winning the World Cup, ”Rasheed said.
What next? “Hoping to be in the Ranji Trophy squad as I have been called to join the state team’s preparations in Vizianagaram ACA Sports Complex. Looking forward to doing well and keep scoring, ”he said.
“I am lucky to have Bharat Anna around (India wicketkeeper-batsman Srikar Bharat of Andhra). He was always very supportive and kept encouraging me. I am also grateful to the ACA, MSK sir (MSK Prasad) for sending me to the UK when I was just 12 for two months training and exposure. That makes me feel I should put in that extra effort to repose their faith, ”Rasheed explained.
He plays table tennis on his off days, and the Intermediate second year student at Reddy College (Narasaraopet, Guntur), doesn’t have any ambitions in academics as he is more focused on making it big in world cricket.