The 20-year-old Rathore, who has played 5 first-class, 7 List A, and 7 T20 matches for Rajasthan since 2022, spoke to TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview about IPL 2023, meeting Sanju Samson, Rajasthan Royals’ title chances, his inspiration and idol and much more…
Where were you exactly at the time of the IPL player auction?
I was playing a Ranji Trophy match when I was picked in the auction. I got the news when I went back to the hotel. I was very happy that I was picked by the Rajasthan Royals. I am from Rajasthan and when Rajasthan Royals picked me it doubled my happiness. I have been a huge Rajasthan Royals supporter since childhood. I backed this team as a kid and now getting a chance to play for the same team is a huge huge thing for me.
You are a wicket-keeper batsman. What was the first interaction with skipper Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler like?
I met Sanju (Samson) bhai during the Rajasthan Royals camp. I was star-struck when I entered that zone. I met Sanju bhai first and after meeting him, I was so relaxed and calm. I told myself that this is my family now and I will be staying with these big players. Sanju bhai gave me a lot of confidence and that made me so comfortable.
I just want to learn as many things as possible from Sanju and Buttler. The way they prepare themselves ahead of a match, their mental strength, and how they deal with crunch situations.
I spoke to Sanju, and he gave me tips on hard-hitting and judging a delivery before it is bowled. He said – focus is the key to success. He asked me to not experiment with anything and play my natural game. He said – just back your shots.
I am sure Sanju bhai will take Rajasthan Royals to the title win this time. The best part about this team is that it has a combination of experience and youth. I am sure the 2023 season will belong to Rajasthan Royals.
You are a left-handed opening batsman. Rajasthan Royals have Yashaswi Jaiswal, Devdutt Padikkal, and Shimron Hetmyer who are southpaws. Do you see yourself getting enough chances in the league?
It is all about team combination. I am ready for any challenge. If the management and captain ask me to open, I will go in as an opener. If they ask me to go in the upper middle order, middle order, or lower order, I am ready for that too. I just want to go and score as much as I can for the team.
Who is your inspiration and why?
I just love Quinton de Kock. I like his batting and the way he conducts himself. He is a left-hander and wicketkeeper too. I have followed him closely and admire him. I feel I bat and keep like de Kock. He is an opener and hard-hitting batsman. I watch his videos and follow his game closely. His wicketkeeping gives me a lot of confidence. I try to include those learnings in my keeping too. I just want to meet him and ask a lot of things. He is a legend and my inspiration.
He (de Kock) is an enigma on the field. The way he grabs catches and some outstanding stunners are just amazing. Those moments excite me a lot. I just loved his last year’s IPL performance.
(Rajasthan Royals Photo)
If you meet de Kock this year, what is the first thing you will ask him?
‘How do you pick up the ball and send it downtown?’ This will be my first question to him. I will ask him about hard-hitting batting. I will ask him about wicket-keeping and how to keep one’s eyes on the ball till the end.
You are from Kota (Rajasthan) and are the first cricketer to get an IPL contract from the city. How did your cricketing journey start?
Kota is an educational hub. It is known for academic coaching, medical entrance, engineering, and all education-related stuff. Students come from all over the country and also the world to Kota and prepare for higher and professional studies. It wasn’t easy for me to switch to cricket. My parents too wanted me to concentrate on my studies and I wanted to be a cricketer. I worked hard. There is no cricket culture in Kota, so it was a bit tough for me. There was a lot of travelling involved. My parents started supporting me with time. Now entire Kota knows me. When I go somewhere, people greet me and talk to me and take photos with me. Thanks to Rajasthan Royals for this.
(Rajasthan Royals Photo)
Your reflexes and wicket-keeping have been talked about a lot in the domestic circuit. How would you rate your India chances?
IPL is going to be a big platform for me. I am keen to learn a lot. There will be a lot of cricketers from all over the world in the IPL. I will be sharing a dressing room with them and taking a bagful of tips. I am really looking forward to this beautiful journey. I trust my abilities. I want to take one step at a time. I will wait for that day (playing for India) too. I will keep working hard for that.
Which Rajasthan Royals bowler would you like to face in the nets and which batsman would you like to keep wickets against?
Trent Boult. He is a fierce world-class bowler. I want to face him in the nets. I want to stand behind the wickets when Jos Buttler comes to bat in the nets. Apart from keeping, I want to see his feet movement and strides. The way he hits the ball and changes his stance at the last moment is at another level.