Sakarya and Geekwad talk about their first phone call in India and what they look forward to most in Sri Lanka
At 23, Sakarya is no stranger to hardships and struggles, having been the sole breadwinner for his family for the past three years, but now he wants to live with the happy memories life has thrown at him, such as the news of his call to India- for a limited series in Sri Lanka in July.
“I would have been happy just to go to Sri Lanka as a netball player, so that’s a big surprise,” Sakarya told ESPNcricinfo. “In the IPL, I thought I exceeded my own expectations. At first, I thought I might have to wait for my turn [at the Royals], but as soon as I got to camp, the kind of trust and faith everyone showed in me, I got the feelings I’m going to start with. So while it is a surprise [to be picked for India]I am very ready and confident in the way I have prepared.”
Following the suspension of the IPL, Sakariya, a left-arm midfield player, resumed training in the third week of May. Much of his routine has focused on improving fitness and developing a strong core. He was working under the supervision of AT Rajamani Prabhu, a famous strength and conditioning coach, in Chennai. The couple first worked together during pre-IPL camp.
“I enjoyed training under him at the Royals, so when I was ready to resume I expressed a great interest in training again under Rajamani Sir. The franchise was very supportive of that and arranged everything – like my stay and travel – in Chennai, so I could become a better version of Myself. During the last 15 days, I’ve had two intense training sessions each day, with a short break for lunch and rest.”
Sukaria was specifically working on “energy system development,” a training method he explains as something where “energy is maintained over a long period of time through customized training routines.” Ask him about the benefits, and he automatically says it helped improve his agility.
“I feel like my movements are faster, my heart is stronger, and I think I’m bowling faster too. This aspect of training isn’t something I knew much about growing up, but I felt a lot of change in the way I feel about myself. It was a busy routine in Chennai, but I Happy and satisfied with him. I look forward to learning more with the Indian team.”
“In Pune, there has been a shutdown since May, and things have only been open from 7 to 11 a.m. So I wanted to make sure that time was not spent sleeping,” Gaekwad said. “I wanted to make more of that time in my fitness and gym work. I didn’t want to be caught off guard and be in a situation where I was selected but not conditioned enough.”
As he’s set himself to go to bed early, he’s almost unaware of his calls in India Thursday night when they were announced – he just happened to check his phone because he mistook the frequent ringing as distress calls from his friends.
“When I go to sleep I generally turn off mobile data. I know if it’s an emergency, someone will generally call twice. When my phone started ringing constantly, I wasn’t sure first what it was,” Gaekwad said with a laugh. Then two journalists informed me of my choice.
“I had to wake my parents up to tell them. They were so deep in sleep, they weren’t fully able to process what I was telling them at first. But this morning they woke up really happy and made some pedas (Sweets) at home, and I had the pleasure of making an exception, inviting them to celebrate the happy news.”
Like Sakarya, this is Gaikwad’s first summons. Unlike Sakariya, Gaikwad was located in and around India. While he says the ultimate dream is to earn his debut, he wants to keep his mind blank and immerse himself in the experience of touring with the national team.
“I got some good grades for India two years ago, but I didn’t think much about my choices,” he said. “So far, I don’t think in the lines of ‘Am I going to play.’ My main focus is getting my operations right. I am looking forward to learning the talent of adaptability, something that will be very important going forward.
“Once you play international cricket, the teams and players are watching you, they make plans against you. Dhawan and a few other seniors have played a lot of international cricket, so I would like to learn from them by chatting with them about how they assess conditions, how they have adapted and how They used their experience and learned from their failures.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo