Few days ago, an unbeaten Karnataka lifted their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 championship at the Holkar Stadium in Indore.
In their triumphant run that included 14 wins on the trot, debutant pacer Koushik V. played a key role with the ball. “It was a happy moment to be picked in the senior state squad. During my debut game, I was nervous. We had senior bowlers in the team like Vinay Kumar, (Abhimanyu) Mithun and Prasidh (Krishna) had already made his debut. Everyone was supportive. I had already played under Manish Pandey in the Mysuru Warriors team in 2016. So, everything fell in place,” said the 27-year-old Bengaluru boy.
In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the towering Koushik grabbed 17 scalps in ten games at an average of 13.17. “The most memorable spell was against Delhi (4/19) where I took four wickets – the top three batsmen. Second best would be the three wickets that I took against Odisha in Cuttack and defended 14 runs in the last over by giving away just three against Uttar Pradesh,” added Koushik.
Now, the lanky speedster clocks at an average 127kph and would you believe Koushik began his cricketing career as an off-spinner and a top-order batsman? “While representing my school Kendriya Vidyalaya, I got hit badly during a game. That was when I decided to give up spin and bowl fast,” he recollected.
A regular tennis ball cricketer from the Yelhanka locality is now among top the fast bowlers in the state. “Krishnamurthy from RWF (Rail Wheel Factory) was our school team coach. He was my first coach and I learnt the basics of cricket from him. Apart from leather ball cricket, I played a lot of gully cricket and also for Yelhanka Rockers team in a few tournaments,” mentioned Koushik.
During the initial phase of his career, Koushik only played for school in the School Games Federation of India. “I never attended any U-16 or any zonal team trials. There was no one to guide me or senior cricketers.”
In 2010 during one of the training sessions with RWF cricket team, a senior player offered Koushik to play for Bangalore Sports Club in the second division league. “The same year, I was picked by coach Sanath Kumar in the Shamanur Davangere Diamonds team for KPL.”
Later, Koushik suffered a career threatening injury. “I had a severe lower back injury that kept me out of action for four months. I had to rework on my bowling action,” he added. With complete support from parents – Vasuki and Latha – and twin brother Kashyap, a Taekwondo player, a recharged Koushik returned into action to juggle studies and cricket.
While pursuing mechanical engineering from Sree Venkateshwara College of Engineering, Koushik was able to play only five first division league matches for Bangalore Cricketers. “During my college days, I used to pick 15 wickets in those matches but never got selected in the zonal teams. It was only after my engineering; I dedicated a lot of time on improving my game and became the highest wicket taker in the U-23 zonal tournament with 16 scalps in four games.”
Following the impressive run, Koushik broke in the U-23 state squad in 2014. “I played only one game against Mumbai. And later, I was selected in the U-25 state team for the South Zone PS Ram Mohan Trophy limited overs tournament. I was the highest wicket taker for Karnataka with 12 wickets,” he stated.
Having slowly scaled up with ladder of success in cricket, Indian Premier League teams have kept an eye in this talented spearhead. “My aim, right now, is to keep fitness level high and be among the top five bowlers in the state. The league is four weeks away and will focus on picking up wickets. My goal for this upcoming season is to play in the Ranji Trophy,” he signed off.