Virat Kohli Mukesh Kumar

India debutant Mukesh Kumar revealed that he experienced a surreal moment when the former Indian captain, Virat Kohli, rushed to embrace him after the Bengal pacer secured his first Test wicket. After years of admiring Kohli’s remarkable performances on the field, this unexpected gesture left Kumar in disbelief.

Making his Test debut a few months before his 30th birthday, the man from Gopalganj, Bihar, is a late bloomer who has had to work his way up the ranks, from Bengal U-23 to India A in the last seven years. Mukesh made an impressive debut on a flat, lifeless deck, finishing with figures of 18-6-48-2.

“When I got the wicket, Virat bhaiya ran up and hugged me. I was in a different world. The man I have watched all these years on TV and looked up to is hugging you. It felt great,” Mukesh told his senior pace bowling partner (younger in age though) Mohammed Siraj in an interaction for BCCI.TV.

“When you (Siraj) and JD (Unadkat) bhai were bowling, Rohit bhai said ‘it’s not a pitch where you can get wickets instantly. You need to work hard’. I had to set up the batter with consistent bowling,” said Mukesh, who was chosen by former Bengal seamer Ranadeb Bose during an open trial during the 2013-14 season as part of the ambitious ‘Vision2020’ project.

Although he was mentally prepared, having gone through the paces in the nets, the news took some time to sink in at the team meeting the day before.

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“When I came to know that I will be playing, I was shocked and actually completely zoned out. Whether I play or not, I am always prepared, so I went to attend the team meeting, keeping in mind that I need to follow my process. But there was some gut feel that I might play.”