Sometime earlier this year, Ravi Krishnamurthy was in Bangalore along with his students from the Hutts Hawks Club in Wellington for one of their cricket tours to India. He took his son to a stock exchange bar in the city and asked him, “Remember this place in 2019?” Rachin Ravindra, the son, remembered it all too well; it was the place where he saw New Zealand play England in the 2019 world cup final. “I was like, ‘Yeah!’.
Five games into the 2023 World Cup, as he stands as the leading run scorer for New Zealand, Rachin Ravindra hopes for another visit when the Kiwis play their last two league games in the Garden City. “It’s a great memory to look back at. Hopefully, we can make a little visit there,” Rachin tells The Indian Express.
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Reflecting on the coincidence of his journey unfolding in India, where he also made his Test cricket debut a few years back, the 23-year old Rachin takes a moment to appreciate the way things have worked out. Adjusting his glasses on a sunny day in Dharamsala, he takes his time to think: “With the role I do, I always have a chance to play more in the subcontinent than anywhere else in the world. I’m lucky enough to have pretty special debuts in India. Every experience I’ve had coming here has been a cool one.” One of them was his last outing for the Black Caps.
A top-of-the-table clash against India that went right down the wire saw Rachin arrive as early as the fourth over after Mohammed Siraj had removed his good mate Devon Conway. And offering him a death stare was one of the two batsmen he admires in contemporary cricket. Rachin smiles before conceding, “To have [Virat] Kohli in your face, and the intensity of seeing that was quite interesting.”
There’s dejection that Rachin feels not having been able to push for a 300 plus total on the day but he’s grateful for being able to stand up to the table toppers.
“Whenever you play India, it’s never going to be easy. Especially in their home conditions and the type of form they’re in right now. Obviously you want to compete, but also be grateful for standing in the middle. Someone like [Ravindra] Jadeja, I’ve idolized him. They are greats of the game. You want to be playing against them as much as you can.”
Two things would stand out from Rachin’s 75 on Sunday. His wristwork to play square and his audacious response – a gorgeous straight drive off Shami- when the seamers went around the wicket to cramp him.
The wrist work came from watching the two players who make up for his portmanteau name: Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar. “I looked at those guys for my inspiration. If you look at the way Dravid and Sachin, how they used their wrists to place the ball into the gaps and generate power while still having a very good technical base, it was something I really admired. Everyone has their own way of batting, and that’s how I’ve come to mine,” Rachin says. It was visible when Rachin shuffled his feet to track back in his crease and open the face of his bat to steal a four down backward point off Kuldeep.
It was, however, that straight drive that reaffirmed Rachin’s belief at the biggest stage. A straight drive off one of Shami’s picture perfect seam up delivery for four. So glorious that Dinesh Karthik compared it to the Himalayan scenery down the ground. “Picture perfect. Just like the background,” he’d say on comms.
Rachin blushes upon hearing the same. “I don’t think I’ll call it that, DK. That’s a pretty huge compliment for it to be anything like those mountains (laughs). I think you look back at it, it’s good to have that. You’re hitting shots against the best bowlers in the world. It’s nice to have these moments and be like, ‘I can compete at this level’.” So is a hundred on your World Cup debut.
Having been able to do so in the repeat of the 2019 fixture he watched in India was a big deal in itself. But the fact that Rachin was in the middle alongside Devon Conway made it all the more special. The two have shared the Wellington Firebirds dressing room even before they made their national teams debut. There’s a three-year-old YouTube video one can go back to, where Conway hypes up a 20-year-old Rachin as his favorite batting partner. Earlier this month in Ahmedabad, the two shared the 22-yards – scoring the first couple of hundreds at this World Cup.
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“It was pretty funny. We kind of mentioned it on a bus ride two days before. ‘I can’t imagine if we get hundreds out there batting with each other’. It somehow happened. It was special to share that moment with him because I’ve spent a lot of time with him. Something that I’ll never forget is seeing him run past and he was more excited for my hundred than he was for his,” Rachin says.
The emotions of his father, who was in the stands at the Narendra Modi Stadium that night, were a lot more subdued. “He’s kind of been my coach since I was young. It’s been a balancing act. He’s someone who doesn’t get too high or too low and that’s very helpful to have in my camp. Someone who looks at things from a logical standpoint and not emotional. Obviously, mum and dad were very proud. Dad, he won’t be that emotional but inside I know he’s very happy.” Something about India’s cricket parenting heritage? “Haha, even a hundred isn’t enough.”
At 23, being his country’s leading-run getter in a World Cup, what’s the end goal? “Obviously, cricket is a massive part of our lives but it’s not life or death. You take that pressure off when you realize that. Being able to experience all the things we’ve done here (in Dharamsala): meet someone like the Dalai Lama, to be in this different backdrop with the mountains, you can switch away and keep that calmness in the game. It’s important that we bring that to the game. Because there’s a lot of pressure when it comes to a World Cup. Everyone wants to win it, but it’s all about that stuff in between.”