From a small-town boy to sharing the dressing room with the stalwarts of Indian cricket like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman, Andhra Pradesh’s progdial son Y. Venugopal Rao has come a long way. In a career spanning close to three decades, he has learnt that success is a by-product of a meticulous process and at 35, he doesn’t shy away from sharing the knowledge with his peers and team-mates.
“I must consider myself lucky. There are so many people who aspire to play for the country but don’t get a chance. I have plied my trade at the highest level. It was all possible because I did certain things right, and that is what I am emphasising on while speaking to my colleagues in the Andhra Ranji team,” said Rao in a chat with Sportstar.
Rao played for Andhra before shifting his allegiance to Rajasthan and Gujarat. It was at the insistence of his best friend and former India wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel that Rao moved to Gujarat to help the state become a force to reckon with in domestic cricket. “I am now happy to see the likes of Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah and Priyank Panchal making waves. They all made their debut or played under us (Parthiv and him) at some point of time. It was all possible because of their mindset,” Rao added.
He went on: “It all starts with discipline and hard work. Players become champions only when they combine the right ingredients. That is when a team will be successful. Win or lose, the situations may vary, but the process remains the same. The fitness has to be top-notch, the respect towards the game and a positive attitude are some of the characteristics that fall under the process. If you look at the Indian team, everyone from a (Virat) Kohli to a (MS) Dhoni or a (Hardik) Pandya do the same things. That is why the team is very successful now. Cricket is never a one-man show.”
Rao is happy with the way Andhra — for which he is playing after five years — has shaped up this season. “We have a healthy mix of experience and youth. We are looking in good shape after a good pre-season. We have focussed on the factors that led to our ouster last season. More importantly, I am looking at shaping up the team for the next few seasons by bringing in consistency. I hope we get a good start here in Chennai,” Rao said.
After M.S.K. Prasad and Rao, no player from the Andhra Cricket Association has represented the country, and according to Rao, it is now only a matter of time. “I have high hopes on K.S. Bharath, Hanuma Vihari and Ricky Bhui. They have the spark and have been dishing out consistent performances. We just have to wait and watch,” the former India player concluded.