IPL 2021: From the gullies of Jodhpur to the highways of IPL, the Ravi Bishnoi tale
From building his own cricket academy in order to practice as a kid to picking 12 wickets in his debut IPL season, it has been a splendid ride for Ravi Bishnoi.
In his very first match on the grand stage of the Indian Premier League and under the floodlights of the Dubai International Stadium, young Ravi Bishnoi was up against Rishabh Pant.
In a game that went right down to the wire, eventually requiring a Super Over to separate the two sides, every little battle turned out to be important.
This one was no different.
Facing Pant, Ravi Bishnoi embarked on his usual characteristic run-up and then launched one down the ground after twisting and turning his body in order to generate spin.
The ball, a loyal servant to Bishnoi's decree, seemed to slow down mid-flight, deceiving Pant and forcing him to commit early. It took a giant bite off the current Delhi Capitals captain's bat and removed his off-stump.
Bishnoi had arrived!
He would go on to finish with 12 wickets from 14 matches that season, becoming an integral part of the Punjab Kings (then known as Kings XI Punjab) setup.
Earning praise from his team members and former legends of the game, Bishnoi was also included in the squad for the tour 'Down Under' as a net bowler.
The boy who built his own cricket academy
West Rajasthan is a challenging place for cricket. Born in Jodhpur, young Ravi Bishnoi found that the culture wasn't conducive to fan his dreams.
The lack of a proper cricket pitch didn't help him either.
So, what did he do about it? Along with a few friends and with the support of coaches, Ravi Bishnoi built a cricket academy, which included doing all of the masonry work, just so they could train.
The cricket academy was aptly named after the fearless Spartans from ancient Greece.
A rise fueled by rejection
Political infighting which is still persistent in the Rajasthan Cricket Association led to Bishnoi being snubbed during the U-16 trials and twice during the U-19 trials.
It was the backing of former Rajasthan wicketkeeper and Rajasthan Royals' fielding coach, Dishant Yagnik, which convinced the selectors to give the talented lad a chance, following which he was officially selected in the U19 state side.
So impressive were his performances in 2019, that he was eventually named in the Indian squad for the 2020 U19 Cricket World Cup.
Even though India suffered heartbreak in the rain-drenched final in Potchefstroom, Ravi Bishnoi went on to finish as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 17 wickets to his name.
A stint with Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2020 followed and he hasn't had to look back since.
The road ahead
IPL 2021 will give provide Ravi Bishnoi with the opportunity to show that his learning curve continues to get better and better.
At this stage of his career, the process is more important than the results and who better to guide him at Punjab Kings than the Indian spin wizard with 956 international wickets and Bishnoi's own role model, Anil Kumble?
Punjab Kings will be playing a lot of their matches on the turning tracks of Chennai and Ahmedabad this season which will provide the leg-spinner with ample opportunities to wreak havoc on the unassuming batsmen he squares up against.