Barely two hours into his first Cricket World Cup match, Rachin Ravindra was thrown into the limelight by the New Zealand captain and asked to bowl against the tournament’s defending champions at the world’s biggest cricket stadium.
The 23-year-old from Wellington duly obliged and came on to bowl his left-arm spin in the 17th over of England’s innings.
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Three balls in, attacking England batter Harry Brook smacked away Ravindra’s third, fourth and fifth deliveries for two fours and a six.
Off the final delivery, Brook attempted another aerial shot but was caught by Ravindra’s hometown teammate Devon Conway.
The youngster had his first wicket in an ICC Cricket World Cup. He failed to take any more wickets and gave away 76 runs in his far-from-economical 10-over spell.
Rahul + Sachin makes Rachin
The all-rounder would have to wait to showcase his skills with the bat and perhaps repay his India-born parents’ faith in naming him after the great Indian batters Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar.
“Back in the day when Mum and Dad were deciding on names, they liked Rahul and Sachin. So they took Ra from one and Chin from the other and named me Rachin,” he revealed in a pre-tournament interview with the World Cup broadcaster.
“Two amazing players and I’m very lucky to be named after them.”
Named after Rahul & Sachin.
After growing up: pic.twitter.com/QRoq7Nv6mm
— Lucknow Super Giants (@LucknowIPL) October 5, 2023
Player of the match
Back on the field in Ahmedabad, it didn’t take long for another opportunity to come by for Ravindra.
With his cricket-mad parents watching in the stands, Ravindra came on to bat less than 10 minutes into New Zealand’s innings.
The tall basketball-loving cricketer found himself batting at the position that is usually taken by New Zealand’s most prolific batter Kane Williamson, who is recovering from a knee injury.
Unfazed by the occasion and his failure to score off the first six balls, the curly-haired left-handed batter launched into an attack against England’s fast bowler Chris Woakes in the fifth over.
Thereon, Ravindra hit five sixes and 11 fours as he raced to an 82-ball-100 – New Zealand’s fastest World Cup century.
He finished his innings unbeaten on 123 and shared an unbroken 273-run partnership with his good friend Conway, who top-scored with 152.
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) October 5, 2023
‘Cool to have Indian roots but I’m a Kiwi’
Ravindra was named player of the match for his one wicket and 123 runs, and his name was buzzing on social media long after the match was over.
“Rachin Ravindra watched the final of the 2019 World Cup in a bar in Bangalore, aged 19. Four years later, he has an 82-ball century in the opening game of the 2023 World Cup,” wrote cricket writer Matt Roller in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
Rachin Ravindra watched the final of the 2019 World Cup in a bar in Bangalore, aged 19. Four years later, he has a 82-ball century in the opening game of the 2023 World Cup
— Matt Roller (@mroller98) October 5, 2023
Ravindra would later confirm his South Indian roots and said it was “nice to have a connection [with Indian roots] when I am around in Bangalore (Bengaluru) to see my grandparents”.
However, when a reporter pressed him on his identity and how sees himself, Ravindra was quick to say: “I am very proud of my roots and ethnicity [but] I completely see myself as a Kiwi.”
Ravindra is not new to international cricket, having made his debut in September 2021, and had been marked as one for the future by cricket experts before the World Cup.
But with the world’s eyes set on the tournament in India, Ravindra couldn’t have chosen a better opportunity to make his mark and that, too, in front of his idol, Tendulkar, who was watching closely from the stands.