Rahul Tripathi, the dynamite Maharashtra player came into prominence with some brilliant performances in the IPL 2017. He became an overnight sensation playing in his cavalier fashion with some neatly compiled 30’s and a half century against Sunrisers Hyderabad. The innings that truly brought him recognition as a possible Indian future star was his man of the match innings of 93 runs against KKR at the historic Eden Gardens. He was the shining Knight who singlehandedly took his side to victory and stood tall among some of the world’s great cricketers. He outshone Steve Smith, Ajinkya Rahane, Ben Stokes and M.S.Dhoni and without even blinking at their failure took up the sole responsibility like a truly seasoned batter.
Rajasthan Royals, a franchise that seems to thrive on young performers, very cleverly at the auction managed to successfully bid for the young “Maharashtra Manoos”, Rahul Tripathi from Pune.
Rahul is on a learning curve, as he so rightly emphasises and this uncut diamond could just be the glittering star of IPL 2018. During his first stint in the IPL 2017, he says he learned a great deal from his seniors. He also learned a fair amount from coach Steven Fleming and Dhoni, but there seems to be a special emotional bond, when he mentions the name of the South African captain Faf du Plessis. He observed the way they prepare, plan and structure their innings and the way in which they approach every game and hopes to implement his learning into this IPL.
Life for Rahul was never a bed of roses as regards his cricket. His father, a Colonel in the Indian Army, at present based in Pune, was always on the move. He was, however, adamant to cultivate sports into his young son and felt that he needed to, as he put it, “play a proper sport”. He did not feel trekking, hiking and running cross country was an option. Rahul’s father had played Inter Service cricket for the Services team and so Rahul, quite understandably, developed a passion even at a young age for cricket.
Living in the Army quarters in Gangtok in Sikkim, on his house terrace surrounded by forest and hills, he played for hours bouncing balls off the wall and playing it with a junior bat. If he missed, the ball was not traceable as it made its way into the wilderness. Rahul’s father, a very determined Army man ensured that the supply of balls was never an issue. There is a joke in their family that, if the forest area is ever cleared, they will find hundreds of balls, all left behind by the young Tripathi!
The greatest batsman ever to play cricket, Sir Don Bradman, had a very similar story as to how he developed his batting skills. During his young days, he would bounce a golf ball off his garage wall and then play it with a stump. So unknowingly, Rahul followed the legendary Bradman.
Cricket was a passion for Rahul and he also at times got his mother and younger sister, who now plays National basketball, to play with him. No friend or family was spared in his quest to play the game. The Tripathi family even after driving from Srinagar to Pune, where Rahul’s fathers next posting was, first went to the Deccan Gymkhana in Pune to register him for coaching, even after the long and arduous journey. A few months later during a selection trial he got selected and Rahul thereafter, embarked on a journey to fulfil his dream to play serous cricket.
Like most aspiring cricketers, Rahul did extremely well by scoring consistently in junior cricket and for Maharashtra in the U-19 tournaments. Brought up in an Army background, discipline, punctuality and determination are his daily mantra in honing his cricketing skills. He never misses practice, as some of his colleagues indicated, and will bat for hours on end. He realised in order to do so, he needed to be on friendly terms with the bowlers and quite understandably made them his ever loyal friends. Rahul has a very compact technique that blends well with his aggressive stroke-play. He feels at times he is impetuous and needs to plan his innings more astutely. In the company of his IPL senior teammates, he hopes to learn every nuance of what makes them different and the process they follow to make them great. Rahul is known to have a playful and naughty streak in him, but his outward persona is such that his impish pranks never get exposed. He loves his home-made Parathas, but although blessed with a trim and fit body, most probably because of the early morning walks and runs with his father when he was young, he understands the importance of fitness. A healthy mind, as he says resides in a healthy body.
Education, therefore, to him has always been important and he is on the verge of completing his final year of Bachelor of Science. He is doing it in Mathematics. His dream is to wear the Indian cap and the number of runs is all that matters he feels, to put him in the limelight.
Rahul enjoys movies, art, music and other sports. He sees and tries to emulate what makes a Federer, Nadal so successful and similarly Bollywood stars like Randhir Kapoor, Salman and Shahrukh Khan. He loves dancing and with able assistance from his sister copies a lot of their hip thrusting and rhythmic movements. Blending some of it with his cricket shots, we may see the Maharashtra Manoos, come out with some innovative creation and many a winning performances for RR.
About the author:
Yajurvindra Singh is a former cricketer who represented India between 1977 and 1979. He enjoys the unique distinction of achieving 2 world records – 5 catches in an innings, and 7 catches in a match - on his debut.
Disclaimer: Please note that the views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Rajasthan Royals or its management.