Vijay Bharadwaj was once thought to be the street smart all rounder for India. He was thought of as someone who could come in to the slogs and produce a quick cameo and with his off breaks keep it tight and pick up a few wickets here and there. But he’s much more than that and is a classy middle order right hand batsman who can do his bit with the ball. He’s reckoned to be one of the technically well equipped batsman in the country. This Karnataka mainstay did get his chance at the highest level, he had fared decently in the 10 one dayers he played, however the 3 tests he had played were disappointing. Born on India’s Independence Day 15th August, this 29 year old has still got loads of cricket left for the country. Vijay Bharadwaj happened to have a chat with Ashwat Ramani of Cricketfundas.com and this is the interview compiled :
Vijay, talk us through your ODI debut against South Africa in the LG Cup at Nairobi.
I think it was a perfect launching pad for me, and I never dreamt of such a good performance on my debut. On that particular tour, I bowled really well and I scored some runs. After that even in the New Zealand series I bowled well and my performance was quite good in the ODI’s. I think I should have carried on for 2 or 3 years more, but because of the injury which I had in Australia in the Sydney Test Match, I was not able to play for one year. And after that I couldn’t cement my place in the Indian team.
You were awarded the Man of the Series in your first ever tournament for taking 10 wickets at a mind-blowing average of 12.2 and scoring 65 runs without being dismissed once. How do you feel about your performance in your very first tournament?
It was a very good series for me, and I think we should have won that tournament. Had we won that, it would have been even more memorable for me. The feeling of anybody contributing on debut and winning the tournament would have been great.
What is the story behind your entry into cricket? Who inspired you the most?
It’s just the friends and the people around me who inspired me the most. Everyone of us were cricket crazy and we started playing at a very young age. I was very fond of playing cricket in my school days and college days. When I started playing Cricket, it was very competitive in Karnataka. That’s how I picked up cricket, and got a lot of help from the senior cricketers. I played a lot of Junior Cricket in Karnataka, and as far as I remember, I played my U-16 in 1989. So its almost 15 years of Cricket now for Karnataka.
In 1999 you played the Australian A side which included the likes of Gilchrist, Symonds in Los Angeles. What did you learn from that series?
It was a pretty good tour against the Australian A side, because that was almost the Australian side. They had Brett Lee, Gilchrist, Symonds, Damien Martyn and Shane Lee. So it was almost the Australian National team. And there was only one complete game, due to the poor conditions and there wasn’t a wicket at all over there and I think there shouldn’t be any kind of International Cricket played on such tracks, because people trying to make their comeback or establish their careers against sides like Australia, and if you give them tracks like that, then your confidence gets shattered.
Your Test Debut came against New Zealand at Mohali where the Indians got all out to a paltry score of 83. Talk us through that and also the nature of the wicket.
Even though we were all out for 83, that turned out to be a good game for us later. I didn’t perform well, but I could see Sachin get a 100, Rahul get a 100, and Sourav got some runs. Getting all out for 83 in the 1st Innings and then drawing the match in the end was a good feat. I didn’t score runs, but I got a feeling of what Test Cricket was. Even though that was my Debut, I was not at all nervous.
You were one of the 4 players including MSK Prasad, Devang Gandhi and Hrishikesh Kanitkar who never made it back to the Indian test team after a poor series down under in Australia. What went wrong there?
I played only one Test in that Series and that was the 3rd and final Test at Sydney. We had lost all our games in that Series including the tour games. We just won one game against New South Wales. No one was performing well in that tour and it was a pathetic performance by everybody. Apart from Sachin, no one scored runs in that tour. Forget about the junior players who were touring Australia for the first time, even the senior players were finding it difficult, because the Australians were on a roll winning so many Test Matches and I think it was tough for Indian Cricket during those times.
In Ranji, you’ve been performing very well since the past 10 years both with the bat and the ball. So what really is the secret for your consistency with both the bat and the ball?
It is just a motivation for playing for Karnataka. Playing for Karnataka for such a long time around 10-12 years, I think as far as I know very few people have done that. It’s a great sense of achievement for me and I think that keeps me going.
You scored 207 against a mighty Tamil Nadu in 2001 after trailing by around 250 runs. Talk us through that innings.
Yeah I ended up on 207 not out in that match, but eventually it was an outright win for Tamil Nadu. I felt really sad after that match, because we lost to Tamil Nadu and we didn’t qualify just by a point. But yes, that inning was a very memorable one.
Is making a comeback into the Indian team in your mind?
Yes definitely. Lets hope I play well this year and score a lot of runs.
What do you think are India’s chances in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy?
India I think has a very good chance of winning this tournament. If they do the right things at the right time, then they have a very good chance of winning this Tournament. I hope that the top 6 batsmen come good while batting and score a lot of runs.
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