Jharkhand’s Kumar Kushagra has made headlines recently. Since he was six, cricket and unwavering focus have been intertwined in Kushagra’s life. His father, Shashikant, a GST department district commissioner with no cricketing background, filled their home with technique books and shot cut-outs.
However, upon arriving at a luxurious hotel arranged by the BCCI for the 2023 Deodhar Trophy in Puducherry, Kumar Kushagra, an 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batter from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, immediately made a video call to his mother.
“I showed it to her and said, ‘see how beautiful the hotel is,’ and the only thing she said to me was, ‘You will keep getting good hotels, focus on your cricket’,” Kushagra said.
Shashikant would attend academy matches, jot down notes on several shots, return home, and cross-reference them with the books. Daily, he would have his son practice one shot meticulously, frequently encouraging Kushagra to engage in cricket.
“I was not permitted into the academy, so he used to take me and drop me there,” he told Sportskeeda. “I used to sit there and watch people bat and that used to inspire me.”
Kushagra is being shifted to a lower position in the batting order for the Deodhar Trophy
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During the Deodhar Trophy, a blend of razor-sharp concentration and precise technique was evident. The right-handed batsman accumulated 227 runs across six matches, boasting an average of 56.75 and a strike rate of 109.13, ranking sixth in the tournament.
He not only held the distinction of being the youngest among the top 15 run-scorers but also stood alone as the sole player to frequently bat at the seventh position in most matches. Books might be useful for writers, but they don’t create cricketers. As Kushagra grew older, he adopted a routine of practising cricket on his home lawn from 5:30 to 6:30 am, attending school at 7:30 am, going to the academy at 3 pm, and practising again at home from 8 pm to 11 pm under the lights.
“That phase was consistent practice without seeing any result, just practice, and focusing on my technique,” the 2004-born said. “I didn’t focus on whether I was getting selected or not.”
“That was the time when I just focused on my learning: ‘Sirf seekhna hai, sirf seekhna hai; matches bhi nahi khelne hai, sirf seekhna hai’ (Only learning, only learning; I don’t even want to play matches, just want to learn).”
At 10, he drew inspiration from MS Dhoni, whom every Jharkhand boy admired. Watching Dhoni’s wicketkeeping and field management ignited his love for wicketkeeping. He soon started dreaming of captaining India to a World Cup win and more.