Bengaluru, March 12: "It was my debut match after waiting for a while and injury, that too to the bowling arm, hit me on that day," said Vinu Prasad - his voice getting smothered in the cacophony honks, screeching of tyres and noisy pedestrians. May be, disappointment too choked his vocal chords.
The Ranji Trophy game between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu in 2008 at the M Chinnaswamy stadium was THAT MATCH. The left-arm spinner, who came through the Karnataka State Cricket Association League in the early 2000s, was a part of a group of youngsters who promised to take Karnataka to heights in domestic cricket.
His batch had some fine talents - Robin Uthappa, Ryan Ninan, Stuart Binny, Gaurav Dhiman etc. They were supposed to step in for the old guard and several of them indeed had distinguished careers for the state in the subsequent years.
Of course, old horses did not go away without resistance. Sunil Joshi kept taking wickets as other left-arm spinners had to dislodge him with even better performances.
A good number of wickets in his kitty in the state league finally opened the door to first-class cricket for Vinu Prasad. But his time on the park did not last long as an attempt to stop the ball on his own bowling resulted in a spinning finger injury that kept him away for some time.
Joshi had returned to the team when Vinu Prasad was ready for further action and the veteran left-arm spinner held his spot till 2012. Vinu did get another chance in 2009 in a limited over game. But the he was not just there - mentally.
"But somehow I had lost the competitive edge - a smattering of injuries and less opportunities," he says a tad ruefully.
24. Isn't it too early to stop dreaming? "Yes. I know. But that was the mindset I had slipped into then. Suddenly, I felt playing cricket does not hold much significance and I lost focus. Perhaps, a bit more guidance would have helped me at that stage," he said.
A couple of years down the line, Vinu Prasad tried his fortune elsewhere - Maharashtra. "There too, I could not fit myself into the environment. A different set of people, different playing culture - I felt like to have entered in a different world and I soon came back to Karnataka," he said.
But couldn't he have tried in a different cricketing eco-system? Kerala? After all, the state is his native. "It's tough for a cricketer who has played just one first-class game to turn a pro just like that. Players like Robin (Uthappa) can do that. He has represented India and of course has played several seasons for Karnataka.
"He's a brand in himself. There will be many takers for a player like him. But case of cricketers like me is different. We may not get such opportunities that easily," said the 32-year-old Vinu Prasad.
The KSCA league and the Karnataka Premier League became his cricketing world thereafter and Vinu Prasad has already placed one foot on to the other side of the fence - coaching through his venture Bangalore Cricket Centre in Banaswadi, Bengaluru.
"This is the first year and I need to develop this place in the coming years. Right now, we have cement wickets and floodlit facility. Hopefully, turf pitches will come soon and more exposure trips to the trainees etc," said Vinu Prasad, who runs the academy along with his partners Arjun Reddy, Srinivas Reddy and Hemanth.
"I am also planning to enroll myself for the BCCI coaching course that will improve my knowledge about modern day coaching," said Vinu Prasad.
He has started to dream again!