Sujith Somasundar is a right handed opening batsmen who has played 2 ODIs for India. The 32 year old hailing from Bangalore is one of the most experienced blokes in the domestic circuit, he infact made his Ranji Debut in the 1990-91 season. Sujith after a productive 1996-97 season, found himself opening for India in couple of matches – one against South Africa and the other against Australia in the Titan Cup. He was the opening partner of Sachin Tendulkar in those matches. Sujith is now playing for Kerala.
Cricketfundas.com’s Ashwat Ramani caught up with Sujith Somasundar and has compiled this interview :
Sujith, your career highlights have been the Ranji trophy triumphs in 1996 and 1998 . Tell us more about those victories.
See talking about the Ranji Trophy victory in 1996, I scored 99 in the 1st innings and also scored 53 in the 2nd innings. I’ve had the tendency of always scoring well in the finals of any tournament. Finals always brought the best out of me. I somehow used to get boosted up during the finals and always wanted to perform well for my team, and performed well. In 1998, when we played the finals against Uttar Pradesh, again it was the same case. I scored 68 in the 1st innings and thanks to a wonderful team effort, we defeated Uttar Pradesh comfortably.
That day was one of the best days of my life. The stadium was deafening as it was a huge crowd. I was unlucky to be run-out in that match, but debut is a debut. Before the Titan Cup, I had played the Challenger series, in which I had scored a century. So immediately I was picked in the team for the Titan Cup and was asked to open. As a result, I didn’t have much time to set myself into the Indian team. Everything happened so quickly and I found myself opening for India at Hyderabad. Unfortunately, I was run out in my 1st match. I didn’t play that well in my first 2 ODI’s and didn’t take advantage of the two chances that I got.
You opened with Sachin Tendulkar. So what advice did he give when you were in the middle with him?
It was my privilege to bat with the greatest batsman in the world – Sachin Tendulkar. He didn’t advise me anything special, but he did calm me down. He asked me to enjoy the moment and get over the nerves, on the whole he reduced a lot of pressure on me. It was really good to bat with him.
So what do you think went wrong in those 2 ODI’s that you played?
I just played 2 ODI’s for India, the first one was against South Africa and the next one was against Australia at Bangalore. As we had lost the 1st match at Hyderabad to South Africa, the selection committee decided to change the team again for the match at Jaipur against South Africa. I wasn’t selected for that match, and eventually I never came back into the Indian team.
What are the positives you take out from the 2 ODI’s that you played for India.
My debut was indeed one of the greatest moments of my life. I don’t recall any memorable moment apart from that. I also recall some of the stops by me in those games, bending down and cutting the fours. It was satisfying that I could do that comfortably at that level. Whenever I am down or not feeling good, I just think about my short career at the International level , and feel good that atleast I got an opportunity which many of the Indians didn’t and that feels really good.
Tell us about your entry into cricket?
Basically, as a child I had interest in all games. I used to play everything like cricket, hockey etc. I used to play a lot of ‘galli’ cricket with my friends. Then I along with my friends decided to join some cricket club to play professional cricket. The Late Sir. Keiki Tarapore was my coach and he guided me really well. I also represented my school and scored many runs. I used to take part in many tournaments that used to take place in our school. I used to score lot of runs for my club, and thus I was selected.
You were an integral part of the star-studded Karnataka Ranji side which had the likes of Kumble, Srinath, Dravid, Prasad, Joshi and many others. What was it with Karnataka that during that period, they were producing such top-class players?
Yes, its quite true that Karnataka has always been famous for producing top quality players. I played a lot of cricket with the likes of Srinath, Anil and Rahul. When, I was playing for Karnataka, Srinath and Prasad had been selected in the Indian team. So they used to help us a lot and motivated us very well and advised us that getting into the Indian team was not impossible and could be achieved with hard work and consistent performances.
In 2002, everything was going right with my batting. I scored a lot of runs that season and was really enjoying my batting. As I told you I have always been good in the Ranjis, no matter whichever team I was playing for, let it be Karnataka or Kerala, I really used to enjoy my batting. Thousand runs in that season was really an achievement for me. It’s my responsibility to see that I help Kerala’s batting to flourish, because Kerala always had a good bowling attack but batting wasn’t their strength.
Any future prospects from Kerala in your mind who could play for India?
Well, Kerala is quite a good team. You have lot of budding cricketers from Kerala. There is this young fast bowler called Sreesanth who bowls with a lot of pace. He has been called up regularly to attend the Indian team nets and other camps. He is a really good bowler. If he can concentrate on his fitness and carry on with his line and length consistently, then I don’t see any reason why he won’t be selected in the Indian team.
You played most of your cricket for Karnataka. So how different was the standard of cricket in Kerala when compared to Karnataka.
See, actually I play my league cricket for Chennai. I am working with a company called Sanmar, and I play league cricket for them in Chennai. The standard of cricket in Chennai is really good, infact the best in India. You can’t compare any place in India with Chennai when it comes to cricket. The young cricketers from Kerala also come to Chennai to play league cricket. Kerala, I wouldn’t say is a very good place as far as the Cricketing standard and the leagues format is concerned but Chennai is the best place and I love playing cricket in Chennai.
Now that you are with the Kerala Ranji team, what are your plans or goals for the next Ranji Season.
Well, I don’t really have any plans or goals for the Ranji season, but I would sure like to get plenty of runs. I would want Kerala to advance to the later stages of the Tournament and do well with them. I am sure we are going to do well this year.
Seeing the current form, what do you think about India’s chances in the ICC Champions Trophy?
Well I think the problem for the Indian team right now is the fitness problem. You have many players who are injured and not able to play. I think if India starts winning one game, then you will have the same winning flow come back. If you remember, the same Indian side performed so well all through last year. So its just the question of one good win which can boost the morale in the Indian camp and inspire them to do well.
Any message for Cricketfundas.com?
I was really happy to meet you guys today morning and to know that a relatively new site like Cricketfundas.com is making amends. All the while, people talk about Cricinfo, it might be a vast site but competition should be there and its only good for the game. You are increasing the number of cricketing fans in the country. You also are spreading the knowledge of cricket all over the world. Keep up for your good work, and best of luck for the future.