ICC World Cup semi-final: "Playing India at Wankhede the stuff of dreams," Rachin Ravindra says
It will be a challenge of temperament and skillsets for the Kiwi high flyer as Team India takes on New Zealand tomorrow
A video posted by Kiwi sensation Rachin Ravindra on his X handle a few days back — that of his grandmother doing a traditional nazar utarna ritual during his visit to ancestral home in Bengaluru — simply went viral.
And with good reason.
Perusing the annals of New Zealand cricket, one can find a number of players of Indian origin — a Deepak Patel and an Ish Sodhi — donning the Black Cap. But none have captured the Subcontinental imagination like this 23-year-old opener.
Ravindra has occupied the top run-getter’s spot for a considerable period of time during this World Cup debut of his, before slipping to third after the group league stage (Virat Kohli and Quinton de Kock pulling ahead of him). His tally of 565 runs from nine innings still ranks the best among the debutants.
That endearing gesture of Ravindra’s grandmother's, ostensibly a prayer to ward off the evil eye, may have provided a lot of praise and adoration for his 'sanskari' roots on social media.
However, the Indian fans are unlikely to provide him with as much indulgence at the Wankhede Stadium in the semi-final match tomorrow, 15 November.
At most of the nine venues where he has stepped out to bat — often as opening partner with Wellington Firebirds mate Devon Conway or at No.3 in Kane Williamson’s absence — Ravindra has been greeted with chants of "Rachin, Rachin". But it could be a very different story tomorrow, playing against home team India!
‘’It’s been pretty surreal and I must thank the crowd for all the support. I have visited Bengaluru several times as a kid and have great memories. It was a beautiful wicket to bat on,’’ Ravindra said in reference to the Kiwis' last league game against Sri Lanka.
While Ravindra still looks the hands-down winning candidate for ‘Emerging Player of the Tournament' on the strength of his willow alone, a vindication of his all-round abilities—he doubles up as a sixth bowler with some tidy left-arm spin and has captured five wickets so far—came a few days back, when he was named the ICC Player of the Month.
‘’It feels nice to win some recognition from the governing body. You are doing it for the team and if you are contributing to winning, then nothing like it,’’ said the youngster, who has rather a mature head on his shoulders.
And now that New Zealand is down to the crunch, how does Ravindra relish the prospect of playing a World Cup semi-final against the hosts at the Wankhede?
"It’s what you dream about — playing the Aussies at MCG or India at Wankhede. They have gone unbeaten, but we will try our best,’’ Ravindra smiles.