Karnataka’s fourth Ranji Trophy match saw Vasuki Koushik debut. The tall swing bowler’s determination and patience never wavered.
His slow ascension through the system proves this. Koushik, a corporate engineer, loved cricket. He balanced academics with cricket, making his path unique.
In three Ranji Trophy 2022-23 matches, Koushik has taken 17 wickets at 13.17. The 30-year-old seamer helped Karnataka top Group C and reach the quarterfinals with a game to spare.
Koushik speaks with patience. It’s a testament to his hard work to become a cornerstone of a local cricket powerhouse with a rich heritage of fast bowlers.
Koushik has taken 18 wickets in nine Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23 matches. However, a 2.70 economy rate was the most striking metric.
How was that possible in 2022? What about the season, which has given him something to cheer about as he keeps talking the ball? In an exclusive Sportskeeda interview, Koushik explained this and more.
Vasuki Koushik’s exclusive Sportskeeda Q interview. You started the Ranji Trophy well. What’s it like?
Vasuki Koushik: After doing well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, I believed I would get a chance from the first game. I was waiting for my moment because Ronit (More), Vidwath (Kaverappa), and Vyshak (Vijaykumar) did well in the last Ranji Trophy game. Vidwath and Vyshak bowl well this season. Before his injury, Ronit bowled well. So many wickets. I’ve supported them or picked up wickets when I’m good. That’s been my job.
Q. Congratulations on your Vijay Hazare Trophy. After consistent tournament performances, how did you feel?
Vasuki Koushik: The new coach, PV Shashikanth sir, who returned after 3-4 years, has clearly stated my position and how he wants me to perform. As the second-most senior bowler, I had to keep it tight and help the bowlers from the other end who did well this time. Ronit is the seniormost.
I kept it tight and thought Kolkata pitches helped our bowling. Vidwath is a fast-bouncing swing bowler. I performed good helping him maintain it tight from the other end.
Q. A 2.70 white-ball cricket economy rate is rare now. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, you did. What caused that?
Vasuki Koushik: I bowl tight lines and lengths. I bowl tight and calm since I’m not fast. Always my bowling strategy. It fit my bowling, however not all pitches were helpful. I am known in Karnataka cricket for getting extra bounce and nip off the wicket. I keep it tight and make it happen on our wickets.
Q. Karnataka’s new-ball weapon, you broke games open in the powerplay. But you don’t want to be labelled a rookie, right?
Vasukikoushik: Because most good bowlers bowl well with the new ball, I am striving toward that. However, I want my captain to bring me the old ball. I’m excited. Work toward that in the Ranji Trophy. I’ll bowl with the older ball because it’s longer.
Q. Maintaining form with the red ball and longer stretches may be difficult. Have you tried anything new to prepare?
Vasukikoushik: Long format. I bowled 26, Vidwath 28, and Vyshak 23 overs (against Chattisgarh). The format and wicket type vary. We’re bending our back on a flat surface that doesn’t help fast bowlers. Only keeping fit changes preparation. This two-inning game requires good rest and sleep. In four-day cricket, we must rebound and take 10 more wickets.
Otherwise, we shall get 3 or 1 points. We should qualify with above 25 points. We need three or four outright wins to reach the knockout phase. Recovery is as vital as strengthening. KC Avinash, our trainer, has worked hard with us and the non-players. Our trainer has worked hard to keep us fit and recover before the match.
Q. As a fast bowler, do you have a specific fitness routine?
Vasukikoushik: Our trainer determines it. He understands us. We test our fitness before camp using a chart. He analyses our strengths and limitations. He creates our season-long programming from that. Our trainer will plan the season based on his workload. He guides us.
Q. The seasoned fast-bowling outfit led Karnataka to the double-treble in 2013-14 and 2014-15. There has been a change in recent years. Do you enjoy leading Ronit More and Vidwath Kaverappa?
Vasuki Koushik: When Karnataka won the double-treble, I suppose Vinay (Kumar) anna had played 10 years of Ranji Trophy, (Abhimanyu) Mithun anna had played 5-6 years, and (Sreenath) Aravind anna was also familiar with the format. Comparatively, only Ronit has played more than 25 matches in our bowling unit. Vyshak, Vidwath, and I have played only 15 games. We’re adapting to Ranji again.
2019. After that, I sat out 8–9 matches. Even though I’m new to Ranji, watching the team bowl has taught me a lot. Youngsters like Vidwath and Vyshak give the team vitality. Ronit and I can lead the team to glory with our experience.
Only bowlers can take 20 wickets and win. The team triumphs and hoists the cup. The spin department also merits praise. K Gowtham, Shubhang Hedge, and Shreyas Gopal contributed greatly.
Q. Your journey from engineering to competitive cricket is inspiring to fans. How rewarding is it to achieve your lifelong dream?
Vasuki Koushik: I was good in school, therefore my parents wanted me to get a degree first. I played cricket while engineering. Most of my Bangalore league matches conflicted with examinations. I couldn’t play all the matches and get wickets to qualify for zonals. That prevented my zone selection. After engineering, I had a vacation from zonals, KPL, and other things to get into the senior team. Since cricket was always on my mind, it was pleasant. I played many Amazon corporate team games while working at corporate.
But it has never gone away like obtaining a job, growing lazy, and being a corporate couch potato. I always thought I had to obtain a sports quota job and play professional cricket early. I’m pleased Central Excise and Customs hired me through sports quota after a year and a half. After being hired there, my professional cricket career took off, so I’m grateful. Cricket changed after that.
Q. It took a lot of will and effort, but you must have struggled too. Your biggest supporters are who?
Vasuki Koushik: My brother, newly wedded wife, and parents have been my biggest supporters. I was relieved my parents never pressured me. “What do you want to do in the future?” they never asked. Home’s motto was “If you want to accomplish something, go there and enjoy it.” I never worried about my future. Just enjoying cricket. Tennis ball, corporate, or league cricket didn’t matter. I simply wanted to enjoy playing. I cared about being there, not playing in the XI or working for 9–10 hours. I was only happy when I was on the pitch with other passionate players.
Q. Vasuki Koushik broke into the Karnataka team as a mainstay. He must have more honours and ambitions, right?
Yes, Vasuki. All cricketers want to climb. Higher-achievers want to rise in cricket and other fields. I wasn’t picked for the IPL either. Good cricketers experience this. I can only perform—not choose. I must return to my strengths. My only thought is to play there. I can do what I have.
Koushik is enjoying “Carpe Diem” and rising rapidly. Koushik continues to climb new peaks with ease.