Kumar Kartikeya Singh recently made his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians and left quite an impression with his left-arm spin. Experts gushed over his control and variety. It’s another matter that the youngster had taught himself the art of wristpin six months ago in hopes of carving a successful career in T20s.
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Kartikeya was 15 when he came to Delhi from Kanpur to enroll himself in a cricket academy. This after he had convinced his father who was a constable in Pradeshik Armed Constabulary, that his endeavour won’t impact the financial situation of the family.
And so once he managed to find himself a coach in Sanjay Bhardwaj who after hearing his financial situation, agreed to teach him for free at his academy.
However, that was just the start of Kartikeya’s struggles. He still had to find himself a source of income and a place to stay. The teenager found work as a labourer in a factory near Ghaziabad which was a whopping 80 km away from the academy.
After working all night, Kartikeya would walk miles just to save Rs 10 to afford packets of biscuit. When Bhardwaj was made aware of his plight, he offered his ward a place to stay at his academy where his cook lived.
“When the cook gave him lunch, Kartikeya began to cry: he hadn’t eaten lunch for a year," Bhardwaj told ESPNcricinfo.
Bhardwaj, who counts the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Amit Mishra among his students, sent Kartikeya to Madhya Pradesh as he wasn’t getting chances in Delhi.
“Looking at his ability and dedication, I sent him to my friend and secretary of Shahdol Cricket Association Ajay Dwivedi," Bharadwaj told the website. “He played division cricket there and took 50-plus wickets in his first two years."
Kartikeya continued to impress during trial matches, taking bucketful of wickets and eventually made his Ranji debut for MP without having played in any age-group cricket for the state.
“Whenever he is free, he starts bowling in the nets. Many a time he comes back from matches in Indore late in the night and gets the lights on and spends the next two-three hours in the nets. His obsession has only grown in the last nine years," Bhardwaj said.
He also quietly taught himself how to bowl wrist spin, working on it obsessively. And debut, Kartikeya bowled his full quota of four overs, allowed just 19 runs and took the big wicket of Rajasthan Royals captain Sanju Samson.
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