Not much was known about Kumar Kartikeya Singh, the left-arm spinner who plays for Madhya Pradesh in domestic cricket. He was a late entrant into IPL 2022 after being drafted in as an injury replacement for the Mumbai Indians. But since then, Kartikeya’s career and credentials have only grown.
Spotted by Mumbai Indians talent scouts, Kartikeya was signed on for IPL 2022 as a support bowler, offering him a chance to hone his skills and play at the highest levels of cricket that he loved. He left his home and family nine years ago and returned to them last month, to an emotional reunion.
A story that saw him move cities, overcome heartbreaks on the field and find a mentor, guru and guide in his coach Sanjay Bharadwaj who put him on a track that echoes a story his father used to repeat when he was a kid.
“There are two paths. One is right and the other is wrong. The wrong path will be easy and the other one will be filled with difficulties and challenges, but that’s what will make your journey successful,” recalls a very vivid Shyam Nath Singh, Kartikeya’s father, in a “Kal Ke Sitaare” series on official website of the five-time IPL champions.
Six years after leaving home, Kartikeya rang his father to tell him, that he was selected to play in the Ranji Trophy and the proud father who couldn’t control his emotions broke down at home knowing his son is following his dream.
In the 2021-22 Ranji season, Kartikeya finished with 32 wickets, the second highest in the season and helped Madhya Pradesh win their first trophy in 23 years.
As the family awaited Kartikeya’s arrival, his mother Sunita Singh was understandably pleased. “He was coming home after 9 years. That’s how long I have waited for my son to return, successful and happy. After all the sacrifices over the years, I pray to god to recognise his journey and bless him with success so that I could be reunited with my son. It is his life and his journey, this was a sacrifice that we needed to make.”
Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma, as he does with all the youngsters and team members even while captaining the Indian team, put his arm around Kartikeya, and helped calm his nerves.
He told the debutant, that he was set to debut against Rajasthan Royals the next day (April 30), “Bowl just like you do in the practice games (with confidence). Don’t worry about anything else,” was what Kartikeya needed to listen from Rohit.
In the match, he took a wicket off his second ball, returned with figures of 1/19 and gave just a single boundary, making an instant impact on the game and for the team. And he picked up a dressing room Player of the Match as well for his performance to the delight of his team members and the coaching staff.
As he looks back on the past nine years and the recent three months of IPL and Ranji Trophy, he is reminded of Mumbai Indians icon Sachin Tendulkar’s words in the nets, “The game comes before everything and cricket must always be respected”, and those are words that will keep him moving forward to his goal.