On a rainy June day this year, the manager of the Goat XI paced around the periphery of the St Stephen’s ground in Kashmere Gate in the Capital as his team tried hard to curb the strokes unleashed by 20-year-old right-handed batsmen Sameer Rizvi from Meerut. Rizvi was representing Collage as a professional in the Goswami Ganesh Dutt cricket tournament final against Goat XI, which comprised trainees of Players’ Academy in Delhi.
“This boy is a damn good batsman. He is the boy to watch out for in the future. Just see his shots. We need to get him out if we are to win,” said Gokul Kaushik, the manager of Goat XI.
Rizvi, who was picked for Rs 8.4 crore by Chennai Super Kings franchise in 2024 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction on Tuesday in uncapped players’ category, scored 57 off 31 balls (5x4s, 4x6s) that day to lead his team to title along with teammate Rituraj Sharma, who made 60.
His presence of mind was evident that day as he carved out a four through point and extracted another boundary to make full use of the only four balls he got to face in the power-play.
Ahead of the IPL 2024 auction, the Meerut lad whose favourite food is the chicken biryani cooked at his home, spoke to Patriot recalling his journey.
“I was only five when I started going to the cricket academy of my maternal uncle, Tankeeb Akhtar, in Gandhi Bagh in Meerut (around 2007-08). It is very close to my home. That initial grounding helped. I used to play at home as a child, so my uncle once asked ‘why not come and play at the academy’,” said Rizvi.
“I then started practicing at my uncle’s academy almost every day. I used to stay at the ground from morning till evening. I have, in fact, developed the habit of spending an entire day at the ground since childhood.”
Rizvi first played at state level in the 2014-15 season representing Uttar Pradesh in under-14 cricket for three years. He then represented UP at the under-16 level for three years before donning the UP colours at under-19 level for two seasons. His first Ranji Trophy game was in 2019.
Rizvi’s initiation into the game with the cricket ball was early.
“At my uncle’s academy, I first started playing with the tennis ball and a year or so later (when he was past six and close to seven) I shifted to playing with cricket ball,” said Rizvi.
The batsman’s ability to come down the track and attack the spinners is one quality that stands out in his batting and reveals his nimble footwork.
Rizvi came into limelight for IPL after a remarkable outing at the UP T20 tournament held in August-September, where he led the Kanpur Superstars and hit 455 runs (off 241 balls) in 10 matches at an average of 50.56 and a strike rate of 188.8. He hit two centuries and one half-century.
He has played two first-class matches and 11 one-dayers for Uttar Pradesh. However, it is the 11 T20s he has played for the state in which he has blossomed – scoring 295 runs at an average of 49.16 and a strike rate of 134.7.
In the top deals of IPL 2024 auction on Tuesday, Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc bagged Rs 24.75 crore, which is also the highest ever bid in the tournament’s history. He was followed by compatriot Pat Cummins, who bagged Rs 20.5 crore, the second highest bid ever in IPL.