For regular followers of the Indian domestic cricket scene, Abhimanyu Easwaran needs no introduction. The Bengal opener has been racking up the runs in the Ranji Trophy and other tournaments for the past two seasons and has made it somewhat of a trademark to try and convert a three-figure score into a daddy hundred.

However, it was not always the case. Easwaran made his first-class debut as an 18-year-old in 2013 and while the talent was always there, it did not manifest in a lot of runs. He was getting the 50s and 60s, he scored fifties in six consecutive games at one point, but the big score somehow always seemed out of his grasp.

And that changed after a chat with his idol, Rahul Dravid, whom he met when playing for India A. “He helped me realise that I did not need to think of a 100 when I have got my 50. He advised me to think about what to do in the current situation. It is a small thing but it made a big difference,” Abhimanyu Easwaran told in an exclusive interview.

“I won’t say it is just one thing, a lot of things came together for me. I worked hard with my coach, Apoorva Desai; VVS Laxman being there as a mentor also helped,” he added.

Like the early part of his career, Easwaran built up to a maiden first-class double century (201 vs Punjab) with innings of 186 and 183, the latter coming in a tricky 323-run chase against Delhi, an innings he considers special.

“We had conceded a first-innings lead in that game, so it was a must-win for us and I managed to stay there till the end,” he said proudly. “The 233 against Sri Lanka A was also pretty good because it came for India and a hundred at any level for the country is always a big achievement.”

The 24-year-old is a mix of several cultures - his father is a Tamilian, mother a Punjabi. He was born in Dehradun and plays for Bengal in the domestic circuit. Between these four aspects, he has traversed almost half the country and he credits his father for it.

“Since I was a kid, my father took me to several junior tournaments around India as he looked for a perfect set-up to nurture my talent. He felt Bengal had a good system - the association had a lot of tournaments for young guys and that the selection process was a fair one unlike other states,” revealed Easwaran.

The opener has interacted with many a great so far, and playing for Bengal also meant that current BCCI and former CAB president, Sourav Ganguly watched him in close quarters. However, Abhimanyu Easwaran does not expect an India call-up because of his presence.

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“Ganguly, being a former player himself, understands situations that we go through and he has promised that he will look after domestic cricketers, which is a great sign for us, but I don’t worry myself with national selections. For me, it is about making runs and making my team win. I do not think beyond that,” he said.

That attitude is maybe what drew the Bengal selectors to anoint him captain across formats starting this domestic season, in place of former India batsman, Manoj Tiwary, who fully backed the decision. And Easwaran is more than up for the task.

“It was a good time for me to get the captaincy with the team being in a transition phase. A lot of young guys are coming in who want to prove their mettle and I have enjoyed that responsibility, and I hope it helps me get more runs,” stated the Bengal skipper.

Easwaran is also one of the few Indian players who has turned out in a foreign league. He played the Dhaka Premier League - Bangladesh’s equivalent of a List A tournament - and he felt his time there added a new dimension to his batting.

“That experience is valuable because I played against the likes of Mashrafe Mortaza, Rubel Hossain and Soumya Sarkar in different conditions. The pitches there are slow compared to India and it gets slower by the day, so playing their spinners on those wickets was a new challenge for me,” said the opener.

He has not yet played in the Indian T20 league but intends to register himself for the auctions next month. “My mother is a big Shah Rukh Khan fan so I am sure she will be happy if I am picked by the Kolkata-based franchise, though I do not have any such preferences,” laughed Easwaran.

His performances have already generated a buzz and if he indeed does well in the Indian T20 League, it will soon create enough traction and put pressure on the selectors to call him up to the national team.

Featured image courtesy: Twitter/ @Abhimanyu073