Imagine you being a professional cricketer who has been playing consistently at all levels, has been scoring centuries and double centuries at state level, giving all-round performances for teams at top division level and still you are made to warm the bench for almost half a decade, what would you do? Well it would be very difficult to cope up for most of the players but not Prayag Bhati who is working day in and out on his game to make a domestic comeback.
For the uninitiated, Prayag Bhati is a first class cricketer who has represented Maharashtra in all the three formats. Prayag made his List “A” Debut in 2011, followed by Ranji Trophy Debut in 2012 and T20 Debut in 2013. From 2011 to 2018, Prayag played almost 7-8 seasons of domestic cricket only to miss out on playing most of the matches warming the bench. Quite evident from the fact that he played his last first class game in November 2017, his last List “A” game in 2015 & his last T20 game in January 2018.
Not that he has been warming the bench because of lack of performances, Prayag has performed well at all levels. Even in T20’s for Maharashtra, he had a strike rate of close to 128.00 and an average of 35.00 which are in no way drop worthy stats at domestic level. Even at age group levels, Prayag kept on achieving important milestones right from being the highest run getter as well as leading wicket taker in U13 Polly Umrigar Trophy to making it into the U15 Maharashtra and West Zone side to scoring 5 tons in Cooch Behar Trophy including 2 double tons with a best score of 271vs Delhi and 251 vs Gujarat. What’s more, Prayag has also proved his mettle overseas playing in countries like USA, UK, Australia and Sri Lanka. In the Surrey Cricket League in 2016, Prayag smashed 600 runs and took 25 wickets in mere 10 matches while he has been bagging man of the match awards in all the finals of sub-zonal tournament representing Indian Customs Department since last 4 years. Since last few seasons, Prayag is playing top division club cricket in Mumbai from Payyade Sports Club and even there he has been the top run getter in all the major MCA Tournaments like Kanga, Police Shield, Young Comrade to name a few.
- In this exclusive interview with Bombaynews.in, we will ask Prayag many interviews surrounding his cricketing journey.
How and when did your Cricketing journey took off?
I was just 10 years old and we could not even afford the fees but Honrao Academy in Pune gave me scholarship to train without taking any charge. It was my first academy where I began playing cricket and I can never forget their contribution. Post that, I joined Cadence Academy which was the turning point of my career. I got to play in U13 tournaments where I emerged as the best performer which eventually helped me to represent West Zone and Maharashtra U15 team. Since then, there has been no looking back. For Cadence Cricket Academy, I scored 22 hundreds out of which 5 are double centuries.
Prayag you have some great records to your name, how does it feel and can you tell us about some of your performances?
I have scored a total of 5 centuries in Cooch Behar Trophy. Out of those 5, two are double hundreds. I have scored 1000+ runs each in Cooch Behar Trophy as well as in CK Col Nayadu Trophy which are one of the most acknowledged state level tournaments of India. Apart from that I have 60 wickets at state level, I hold the record for fastest U19 Hundred, fastest U23 double hundred as well as fastest hundred in U25 age group. I have even smashed 6 sixes in an over twice. So yeah, I have been performing consistently since almost 15-16 years and still I am patiently waiting for any opportunities that comes across to make a domestic comeback.
You have also played overseas cricket, can you take us through that?
I have played overseas cricket in 4 countries namely USA, UK, Australia and Sri Lanka. The experience of playing overseas has made me a tougher cricketer as the conditions are very testing plus you have to be a thorough professional to play in such countries. In each of the country I have been fortunate enough to perform well. I scored 142 and 52 in Australia in Darwin, 2011. I have two centuries and 2 fifers in England in Surrey Cricket League, I scored 73 vs Sri Lanka A in Colombo in 2010 while I have 2 centuries and 2 fifers in Washington Cricket League in U.S.A
With so many performances in your kitty, did IPL ever came to your mind?
Who does’nt want to play IPL? Obviously I had the backing of performances to play IPL and I was even approached by 3-4 franchises but I never got the opportunity to play. I even performed well in those trials, still hard luck, couldn’t make it! I remember scoring a 12 ball 50 in trials for Rajasthan Royals followed by a 38 ball 80 in trials for Kings XI Punjab.
It has been almost 5 years since you played first class cricket, do you still aim to make a comeback?
“You can check all my statistics at top division level anywhere in any part of the world, I have been performing consistently at all levels. Be it overseas, Mumbai cricket, Maharashtra cricket, I have scored runs in each and every tournament. At the same time I am working on my batting every day, grinding it out in the nets. I feel I have evolved as a batsman in last 4-5 years. You can also check my fitness levels, the way I practice, there has’nt been a single day where anyone can say that Prayag has given up. I am obviously working hard for a domestic comeback and I am open to perform for any state which believes in me and backs me up.
I have warmed the Ranji bench for 30+ games only serving water, I am a team man and any task is a matter of honor and commitment for me but imagine not getting a chance to play for almost 4-5 back to back seasons. It can obviously take a toll on any player but yeah I am not giving up, working hard every day with a fresh positive outlook. Also i have no grudges and complaints, i have let go of my past and focusing on my present“
Bombaynews.in wishes the talented cricketer Prayag Bhati all the luck for an exciting cricket career ahead.