Vishal Joshi isn’t as fortunate as his other Saurashtra teammates who can solely focus on cricket while the rest is taken care of.
The 23-year-old off-spinner’s day starts with three-hour practice session (7 to 10 am); comes home; dumps his cricket kit and picks up gutkha cartons. Vishal works as a gutkha supplier in Jamnagar to support his family.
“I have to do something as I am the only earning member in my family. My father Harishbhai (who also had a paan shop) stopped working because of age (55-plus) and back problem,” says Vishal, ahead of the Ranji Trophy final against 39-time champions Mumbai, at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Vishal thanked his coaches for letting him skip the last few hours of practice sessions. “My coaches understand my problem. They have been very supportive. My family is also very encouraging and they want me to concentrate on cricket,” he said.
Vishal has a younger brother and a sister in the family. “They are studying. I am in my final year. My job fetches me Rs 8,000 to 10,000 in a month. I also save my match fees, etc. Sab ho jaata hai (somehow we manage it),” says Vishal, who has currently taken a break from his job due to the Ranji final.
An impressive show in U-25 earned him a place in Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy team. Vishal has played the last three fixtures for Saurashtra and is already among the top five bowlers. He has claimed 15 wickets in three games at an economy rate of just over 3.5. He claimed three wickets each against Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka respectively. He was most impressive in the semi-final against Punjab against whom he had a nine-wicket match haul (4-59 and 5-43). He also scored an unbeaten 55 in Saurashtra’s first innings.
The off-spinner has clearly given seasoned campaigner and fellow offie Kamlesh Makvana (21 wickets in nine matches) a run for his money. “I am lucky to get a chance midway. I was selected after spinner Nayan Doshi got injured. I want to make the most of this opportunity,” says Vishal, who made his first-class debut against Uttar Pradesh in 2009.
Vishal has given himself two more years to make his career. “I will see how I am doing till I am 25. I can stretch till then, but beyond that I will have to seriously think about whether I can afford to continue playing cricket.
“As of now, I want to do well in the Ranji final and cement my place in the team,” he concluded.
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