Every cricketer's dream is to play in the IPL, hopefully, I get to play sooner or later: Vriitya Aravind [Interview]

Vriitya Aravind was the leading run-scorer in the qualifiers of the T20 World Cup.

Vriitya Aravind
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Vriitya Aravind. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Koustav Sengupta
KOUSTAV SENGUPTA

Jr. Staff Writer

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Slowly and steadily, the name Vriitya Aravind is becoming a renowned character in the cricketing world. At just 20, the Chennai-born cricketer has already represented UAE in 48 international matches and was also the leading run-scorer in the qualifiers of the T20 World Cup. To add to his tally, the officials of the Emirates board also appointed the youngster as vice-captain of the side for the upcoming T20 World Cup.

Given his form and temperament, it is pretty much established that this opportunity is just not given to him but he worked hard to earn it. With an average of 30.50 and a strike rate of 132.97 in T20Is, Vriitya has proved himself in the limited opportunities he got. After some initial success, the cricketer aims to raise his standard and keep performing well for his national side with the hope of playing in the Indian Premier League one day! In an exclusive interview with Crictracker, the youngster spoke about his journey, the highs and lows of the UAE team and also spoke on the Deepti Sharma - Charlotte Dean saga.

Here’s what Vriitya Aravind said in the interview -

1. So, you were born in Chennai but now are an integral part of the UAE squad. How has the journey been for you? 

 It has been really, really smooth you know! So, I was born in Chennai and then moved to Dubai. I never had a cricket bat, never played cricket you know! It all started when I was in Dubai. Played school cricket, and club cricket here and then went on to represent the UAE U16 team and play for UAE U-19 and then of course got into the main team. So, it was a clear pathway for me to get to where I am now.

2. You made your international debut at the age of just 17. How special was that moment for you?

 It was really special you know, cause I played U-16, and U-19 for the team and then to make my men’s debut in the same year I made my U-19 debut was really special. I think that was a really, really good year for me and of course, it was pretty unexpected. I never saw it coming that early but (I grabbed the opportunity).

3. Who was your cricketing idol growing up? What do you admire about him/her?

 My cricketing idol just keeps changing every season. Whoever performs well in that season is my idol. I try to take good things from the people in the limelight and try to bring that.

4. So, who’s the current cricketer you are really following?

Virat Kohli is back in his form, so it's hard not to say his name.

5. What are the things that you follow about Virat Kohli?

 I think it’s the hard work and determination you know!  He’s been through such a phrase and now he made a strong comeback. So that made me like him even more. Every cricketer is very good when they are in good form but when they go through the hard times, that’s when you really need to follow them, cause the things they do differs and to find out the things that will work for them later on. So, I think that’s how he earned my respect to the next level.

6. UAE missed out on the opportunity to make it to the Asia Cup 2022 and has now suffered defeat at the hands of Bangladesh in T20Is. What are the particular things that you think the team needs to work on before the all-important T20 World Cup?

We had a really good start to the year. We won the World Cup qualifiers and played very good cricket. We won against Ireland six times out of six times that we played against them. So, it was all going on a rise and then it was the Asia Cup qualifiers, which was not a good one for us. I think that performance kind of motivated us, boosted us to train really hard in the last one month. Cause we all thought that we will be qualifying for the Asia Cup and that let us down as we didn’t. So, that made us realise what we missed on cause it happened on our home. We all were there watching the game. So, that really motivated us to train well. In the last one month, we had really intense training and these two games against Bangladesh was a very good experience. We realised that we are not too far away from the Test playing nations. Both the games were pretty close. We had the game and (missed) both chances. Hopefully, we take all our learnings of last year and put that into the World Cup and perform well.

7. The World Cup is also going to be a great opportunity for a youngster like you. Have you set any specific goals for yourself as far as the ICC event is concerned?

 I think as a team and individually, the first goal is to get into the super 12. We play Netherlands, Namibia and Sri Lanka. So, hopefully, win those games and get into the super 12. So, that’s the main goal for me and for everyone in the team.

8. Do you feel that the team should play against more formidable opponents to strengthen itself?

 I think it will be a good exposure to play a lot of Test-playing nation but we have played against a lot of associate nations in the past two years and that has helped us reach this level. Now, that we have reached this level, we get to play against a lot of Test-playing nations and if we perform well against them, I’m sure we will get more games against them as well. That will enhance our cricketing skills.

9. The Deepti Sharma and Charlie Dean saga has taken the cricketing world by storm. What's your take on that? 

 India still picked nine wickets before that you know, it is a matter of just one wicket. If it’s in the law of the game, it’s fair but I think it comes to the individual, which way they want to play the game. I don’t know which side to take on or lean on but I think it’s a good debate to have.

10.  Who would you like to credit the most for the success you have enjoyed thus far?

 I can’t really thank one person. Of course, my parents have guided me all the way and they have been really an integral (part) in all my cricketing aspects and even for my education in that case. Of course, I would like to thank my coaches and my teammates. I think they have played a pretty big role as well.

11. Can you talk about the steps that the Emirates Cricket Board has taken to promote and enhance cricket at the grassroots level?

 Now, as we can see, a lot of youngsters are coming into the UAE set-up and coming to the UAE team.  Like, in the last two games, we have seen a 16-year-old (Aayan Khan) make his debut and perform really well against Bangladesh. I think that tells us that we have a really good pathway to get into the men’s set-up. We play U-16 cricket, and U-19, there are U-16 academy leagues, U-19 academy leagues, school leagues which lead up to U-19. So, that’s a clear pathway to get into the men’s team.

12. Test cricket is considered the best form of cricket. Do you think UAE is walking on the right path to playing the longest format of the game sometime soon?

 Hopefully. I think our performance in the next one-two years (will determine that). If we beat a few Test-playing nations and get Test status, that will be (great). I think it’s a dream for every cricketer. So, we all are working towards that dream and we all know what we can achieve and so, hopefully we get to the stage where we play Test cricket. 

13. Do you follow IPL?

 Yes, I do.

14. Given your age and form, do you think playing in the IPL can be a reality soon?

Hopefully. It’s every cricketer’s dream is to play the IPL. It’s the best and the biggest franchise league in the world. It’s a dream for me to play but if I follow the right process, and keep performing for UAE and wherever I get a chance, it will lead to the IPL. Hopefully, it happens sooner or later.

15. Which is your favourite team in the IPL?

 Chennai Super Kings, of course.

16. What’s the reason behind that?

 I was born there. You know how big cricket is in Chennai. Every Chennai citizen is a big fan of CSK. I’m no different.

17. Did you see any of Chennai’s matches?

Oh, yes! Especially, when the IPL was in the UAE, a couple of years ago, I was there in every game, every single game.

18. On a serious note, Rohan Mustafa is one of the legends of UAE cricket. However, he currently is not a part of the UAE squad. As vice-captain of the side, what do you think about this move?

 I don’t think I am really allowed to comment on the situation as of now.

19. Vice-captain at the age of 20. Do you feel the pressure that comes with it or enjoy the responsibility?

I really strive on this you know! I played the last three years of my life as a wicket-keeper and I feel as a wicket-keeper, you are already a leader of the team. You get to do most of the field changes, you get to adjust the angles and everything. So, a move to become the vice-captain has not really put a lot of pressure under me because it’s pretty similar to the role I do, but of course, it’s now more official. Also, I think I strive under pressure. So, it will be a good role in the World Cup.

20. Lastly, any message to the fans before the all-important T20 World Cup?

Yeah, just keep supporting UAE cricket and hopefully, we get to play some good cricket and give some surprises and upsets in the World Cup.