FOLLOWING THE IPL AUCTION ON TV
The 29-year-old Anunay, who has represented Bihar in 1 first-class, 8 List A, and 1 T20 match in his career so far, was nervous and made several calls to his coach Jwala Singh to ask him the same question – ‘sir, will I be picked? If not, please ask them to make me a net bowler at least’. Jwala, who is a renowned name in the coaching circuit and helped shape the careers of the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Yashasvi Jaiswal, gave him confidence and said ‘ stay calm, let your name come up’.
Lasith Malinga, wasting no time. 👏#RoyalsFamily | #TATAIPL2022 | @ninety9sl https://t.co/GruPXn7AuC
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) 1647884642000
When his name was called by the auctioneer, an anxious Anunay called Jwala again and the coach could clearly hear the happiness in his ward’s voice. Anunay was picked up for Rs. 20 lakh (his base price) by the Rajasthan Royals, making him officially the first cricketer from Bihar to get an IPL contract.
“I am looking forward to sharing the dressing room with Sanju Samson (RR captain). He is a very calm and composed player. He is very chilled out and relaxed. I want to pick up that quality from him. I want to talk to him as much as I can and learn as much as possible. I am grateful that I will be able to get tips from bowling coach Lasith Malinga sir. I am looking forward to learning a lot from him,” Anunay told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
BOWLING TO YASHASVI JAISWAL DURING THE PANDEMIC AND IPL CONTRACT
Yashasvi Jaiswal, who was retained by RR ahead of the last player auction, didn’t have a good IPL season last year. He played 10 matches and scored 249 runs at an average of 24.90. Coach Jwala Singh wanted to prepare him for IPL 2022. But he was restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the cricket grounds were closed due to the rise in the number of Covid cases.
Jwala though was adamant and he decided to travel to Gorakhpur, his hometown, by car. He took Yashasvi and traveled almost 1700 kilometers to reach Gorakhpur.
But Jwala also needed a bowler. He called Anunay’s father and asked him to send him for practice. His father was really happy to send his son.
“No one was allowed to enter the venues in Mumbai. So, I decided to take Yashaswi to Gorakhpur because there were fewer cases there. My family stays there. We started practicing at the Railway Ground and St Andrews Ground. Railways ground is very big and I asked Yashasvi to hit long sixes. I wanted Yashasvi to hit sixes the way Dhoni and Sanju were hitting in Sharjah,” Jwala told TimesofIndia.com.
“Anunay’s father contacted me two years back and told me about his son. He is a very good fast bowler. I remembered Anunay and it was an opportunity to test him against a batsman like Yashasvi. I called his father and asked him to send Anunay for practice,” Jwala further recalled.
“Anunay was bowling really well. He has variations. I asked him to bowl to Yashasvi. Yashasvi tonked him for sixes, but Anunay also dismissed him many times. It was interesting to see a rookie like Anunay dismissing an experienced player like Yashasvi. I used to have a mental conditioning session with him at the end of the day and give him feedback,” the coach said.
After a few days, Anunay shared his desire to play for an IPL team. He was ready to join any team as a net bowler to begin with.
Jwala didn’t want to see a talent like Anunay fizzle out. He contacted some of his friends associated with IPL teams and spoke to them about Anunay. Finally, RR called Anunay for trials.
HOW THE RR TRIALS WENT FOR ANUNAY
During Day 1 of the first trials (25th December 2021), Anunay bowled 4 overs, conceding 20 runs, and claimed 4 wickets. On Day 2, he returned figures of – 3-24-0-3. He was called on Day 3 as well where he was asked to defend 15 runs in 1 over. The Bihar-lad gave away just 6 runs and claimed a wicket.
Coach Jwala Singh and Anunay Singh
During the opening day of the second trials (29th Jan 2022), Anunay bowled 3 overs and claimed 3 wickets, conceding 34 runs. On Day 2, he was assigned to bowl at 2 batsmen (one over each) and defend 15 runs. He defended the runs and dismissed both batsmen.
“Anunay is a natural talent and he was not getting opportunities. He wanted to be a net bowler initially, but I wanted him to aim higher. He is a talented fast bowler and I wanted him to be in good hands. I wanted him to be handled properly. That’s why I directly sent him to trials. I am really thankful to RR for giving him the opportunity. He cleared the trials and was selected. I am sure he will do well. He has got the ability to read a batsman’s mind. He can come up with different variations and change his bowling plans if needed at the last moment,” Jwala told TimesofIndia.com.
INSPIRED BY BRETT LEE, ANUNAY READY TO ROAR
Anunay idiolises former Australian fast bowler Brett Lee. Watching Lee dismantling stumps with his lethal pace made Anunay fall in love with cricket. Anunay in fact has a whole collection of Lee’s bowling videos and he emulated Lee’s bowling action as a kid.
One idolised Brett Lee. Yuvraj Singh inspired the other. 💗📰 Read more on our IPL debutants. 👇
— Rajasthan Royals (@rajasthanroyals) 1647794577000
Seeing his son’s interest in cricket, Anunay’s father AN Singh, sent him to Delhi for further studies. He completed his standard 11th, 12th, and college graduation from Delhi, and played school-level cricket in the capital.
“There was a lack of infrastructure in Gorakhpur. I am from Bihar but due to my father’s job, we had shifted to Gorakhpur. I went to Delhi for further studies. I used to practice in the evening but didn’t get a chance to play,” Anunay told TimesofIndia.com.
Anunay’s hard work finally paid off when he was included in the Bihar squad in 2018.
During the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2018 tournament, Anunay, in his team’s match vs Mumbai, got the chance to bowl to the likes of Rohit Sharma, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Shivam Dube, and Shreyas Iyer.
“We lost that match but I learnt a lot. I almost took Rohit Sharma’s wicket,” the 29-year-old recalled.
“Rajasthan Royals will be a big platform for me and I am really excited to play in the tournament (IPL 2022). I am excited about being able to share the ground with world-class cricketers,” Anunay signed off.