28-year-old Mukesh Kumar from Gopalganj, Bihar, was thrilled to know that he was included in India's One Day International series against South Africa starting from October 6. Mukesh got to know about his selection on Sunday (October 2), when he was added in the WhatsApp group of the Indian cricket team. This was a rare achievement for a player who has not played a single game of IPL. In IPL 2022, he was the net bowler for Delhi Capitals but didn't play any game.
Emotional moment: When he got the news, his eyes were full of tears. He remembered his father whom he lost recently to a brain stroke. Not only, him his whole family started crying. Mukesh has five siblings, and he is the youngest of the six.
"I got very emotional. It was all a blur," Mukesh told news agency PTI from Rajkot, where he is playing the Irani Cup. I could only remember my father late Kashi Nath Singh's face. My father, till I played Ranji Trophy for Bengal, didn't think I am good enough to do well professionally in cricket," he said.
"Unko shaq tha ki main kaabil hoon bhi ya nahi," he said. His father actually wanted him to apply and get settled with a government job, which Mukesh did, but cricket was his calling and he wanted to excel in that.
CRPF exam and cricket: By 2012, he had completed his BCom and his father, who was a cab driver, called him to Kolkata. After his graduation, Mukesh appeared for the CRPF exam thrice but couldn't clear it. In fact, his district Gopalganj is known for sending CRPF soldiers. Mukesh, just like others, also tried his luck. And, though not in CRPF, he got job in the CAG for being a first-class cricketer.
In Kolkata, Mukesh went to Kalighat team club, but there Ashok Dinda was the bowling star. Still, Kumar made a name of himself as his outswingers and yorkers were too good to be ignored.
Kumar made a mark in 2014 at the Visions 2020, flagship project of the Cricket Association of Bengal. He appeared for a trial and impressed bowling coach Ranadeb Bose and cricket director Jaydeep Mukherjee.
But once his medical tests were done, he was found to be malnourished as he didn't have proper diet which was difficult to arrange for his dad. It was the bowling coach Ranadeb Bose who spoke to the then CAB secretary Sourav Ganguly, who arranged for Kumar's stay at the Eden Gardens, and that's where his diet was taken care of.
Cricketing career takes off: Soon, Mukesh made it to the Ranji team of Bengal. He has been Bengal's most consistent bowler and his five-wicket haul for India A in the first unofficial Test against New Zealand and four wickets on the first day of Irani Cup fast-tracked his selection in the Indian team.
Today, he has 113 wickets in 31 first-class matches, including the ongoing Irani Cup, where he has taken 17 wickets in 18 List A games with an economoy rate of 5.17.
Soon, he will be making his debut in the international level and will be playing with the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Sanju Samson and Shreyas Iyer.