So, when Mukesh took his maiden Test wicket and the former India captain hurriedly ran to hug him, it was a surreal moment for the Bengal seamer.
Unlike some who make their Test debut at a young age, Mukesh had to wait until a few months after his 30th birthday to get his chance. Hailing from Gopalganj in Bihar, he can be considered a late bloomer in the world of cricket.
However, his journey to success was marked by consistency and consistent performances, he proved his mettle at various stages, progressed from the Bengal U-23 side and made his mark in India A over the past seven years.
“When I got the wicket, Virat Bhaiya ran up and hugged me. I was in a different world. The man I’ve seen on TV for so many years hugs you. It felt great,” Mukesh told his senior pace bowling partner (though younger) Mohammad Siraj. In a communication to BCCI.TV.
Mukesh made an impressive debut on the flat dead deck with figures of 18-6-48-2 to show for his efforts.
“When you (Siraj) and JD (Unadkat) bhai were bowling, Rohit bhai said, ‘This is not a pitch where you can get quick wickets. You have to work hard’ and I had to set up the batsman with consistent bowling,” said Mukesh, who picked former Bengal seamer Ranadeb Bose.
Although he was mentally prepared, going through the paces at the Nets, the moment he was told in a team meeting the day before, it took a while to sink in.
“When I found out I was going to play, I was shocked, actually I was completely zoned out. I went to the team meeting with the mindset that whether I play or not, I’m always ready, so I have to follow my procedures. But I had a feeling I could play.”
His mother became emotional and everyone involved in the trip was very happy.
“So when it’s dawn, it’s evening in India. So in the evening, when I reached the hotel, I spoke to mom, ‘Ma main desh ke liye khel raha hoon (Mom, I’m playing for the country.) All my relatives and everyone who supported me from the beginning are happy,” he told Siraj.
(with PTI inputs)