Jay Gokul Bista Indian Gorkha cricketer played for Mumbai in Ranji Trophy

Jay Bista (born 23 December 1995) is an Indian Gorkha cricketer who plays for Mumbai in domestic First Class cricket. He is a batting all-rounder who bats right-handed and bowls right-arm off break. He represented Mumbai at the Under-16 and Under-19 levels before making his first-class cricket debut in November 2015 during the 2015–16 Ranji Trophy. For a player just two games into his first-class career, 19-year-old Jay Bista exudes remarkable confidence. He is, after all, a member of the Mumbai class of 2015 – a bunch of players who slide down the hallowed of the Wankhede pavilion yet step into the playing area with a brief prayer. This is a group which has grown up with the Mumbai doctrine of batsmanship, yet one which doesn’t conform to its every rule. Nothing else can possibly explain his cover drive off RP Singh in the first hour of the match. He had, after all, played and missed his two previous deliveries, attempting the very shot. There is an air of nonchalance to his batting.

Predominantly, he’s all about getting into good position, keeping the head still and let the hand-eye co-ordination take over. Not very dissimilar to an affable Delhite who retired a while ago. “Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar have been the two biggest influences in my life,” Bista says. “I know there cannot be another Sehwag and I’m not even trying to be that, but (like him) I just love to stay positive and treat every ball on its merit without worrying about what happened the ball before,” he adds, quelling the Sehwag comparisons. The buzz around the bespectacled Bista started much before he swept the experienced Jalaj Saxena out of the attack on a rank turner in Indore to set up a chase of 280 in last month’s clash against Madhya Pradesh. His name had been doing the rounds in Mumbai’s cricketing circles for a while, and not just because of the numbers he’d been chalking up. He was earmarked to take a place in Aditya Tare’s young Ranji side, making him the first player of Nepali origin to play for Mumbai. Bista hails from Dhangadi, a town on the foothills of the Himalayas on Seti zone of the Far-Western Development Region of Nepal, close to the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. The relocation to Mumbai though happened so long before he was born that Bista can’t put a finger on its exact time-line. “Our family moved to this city around 40-50 years ago. Mumbai has been home ever since,” he says with a chuckle. Gokul Bista, Jay’s father, had pursued cricket very seriously himself.

Jay Bista Indian Gorkha cricketer
Jay Bista Indian Gorkha cricketer

Despite representing Mumbai University, braving the cut-throat competition to make the Ranji side appeared a dream too far-fetched. So he redoubled his efforts to make sure his son was blessed with all the opportunities to make it to the sport’s highest levels. This included enrolling Jay at Shardasharam Vidyamandir, the school Sachin Tendulkar famously moved to for its cricket focus. “I used to play my cricket at the PJ Hindu Gymkhana till seventh standard. I was asked to shift to Shardashram because of its sporting culture, especially towards cricket. And it was great because only after I went to Shardashram did I realise how much there was to learn. It was there I learnt the basics of how maidaan cricket is played,” Bista Jr says. Interestingly, like Tendulkar, Bista started out wanting to be a fast bowler. Except, there was a little problem. His coach, Mr. Pravin Gorgaonkar, deemed that the boy, in his quest to bowl as fast as possible, was in serious violation of the infamous 15-degree arm flexion law and advised him instead to concentrate on his batting and off-spin bowling. For the batting to improve however, there were the hard yards to do. And in Mumbai, the hard yards usually start with crowded train journeys.

Bista’s took him from Churchgate to Dadar, a good 12 kilometre distance, at 5:30 in the morning for practice. He used to get back home by 11, just in time to freshen up and make the return trip to Dadar for school. Giving him company in these chaotic commutes were his kit-bag and his doting mother. “My family has been my rock. I would say my mother worked harder for me than I did. When I was a kid, she would take me to practice, wait outside the grounds for the whole duration and then bring me back home and get me ready for school and the return journey.” Naturally, academics took a back step in this daily grind but Mr. and Mrs. Bista ensured there was no undue pressure on their lad to excel everywhere. “I wasn’t all that great but managed average grades. I scored 80 percent in my senior secondary certificate exams and 61 percent in the higher secondary level,” he says. The batting talent though was spotted early. Pleasantly surprised by the boy’s hitting abilities during a chance observation, Naushad Khan, father of the now-Uttar Pradesh teenager Sarfaraz, invited Bista to practice at his coaching camp for free. It was at this camp, at the famous Azad Maidan, where Bista would go on to learn his most important cricketing lessons, lessons that would hold him in good stead on a minefield of a track at the Holkar stadium in his second first-class game. “At Azad Maidan, you never got great wickets. They would spin, bounce awkwardly, sometimes keep low… you have to find some way, any way to survive.

Gorkha Ranji Player Jay Gokul Bista
Gorkha Ranji Player Jay Gokul Bista

And that’s where I picked up my sweep shot,” Bista recollects with a sense of accomplishment. “When I went out to open in our chase of 280 against MP, those practice sessions came flashing back. I attempted my first sweep and the ball went off the middle of my bat. I realised I was timing the sweep really well and continued to use it. 80 percent of my runs eventually came from that shot.” The ascent to the senior Mumbai side was not overnight. Bista went through the full rigours of Mumbai cricket – the Under-14s, the Under-16s, the Under-19s and the Under-23s, churning out the numbers at every level. There were disappointments along the way as well. He was known to get very depressed if he ever got out early and needed a talking to from coach Vinod Raghavan to stop him from slipping into a negative spiral. Bista believes he is now mentally equipped to brush off failures and move on. The Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy early of 2014-15, in particular, put Bista on the peripherals of the senior set-up. The opener set up the title win with blazing centuries against Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in the quarters and the semis. This was followed by twin centuries for the Under-23 side against Bengal, giving the Mumbai selectors a ready-made option to address the senior side’s opening woes.

The Ranji call up, he remembers vividly, was out of the blue. Under-23 Coach Vinayak Samant broke the news to him during one of the practice sessions. His parents were ecstatic while Jay himself was merely pleased. “I was not overly happy. I knew I have to perform there also. The ultimate goal, after all, is to play for India… and play at least for 10-12 years.” The journey has only just begun for young Bista but he already has his eyes set on lofty targets, chief among which is to be part of a World Cup winning side. He was in Nepal in April 2011 when MS Dhoni & Co. lifted the trophy and regrets missing out on the celebrations that broke out around the Wankhede, a stone’s throw away from his residence. “I dream of lifting the World Cup for India. Every once in a while, I log on to YouTube to watch the video of those celebrations at the Wankhede. Someday, I want to be that guy in the India jersey holding that cup.” For now though, it’s back to hard grind of Mumbai cricket for Bista. Cementing his place at the top of the order in the Ranji side is at the top of his wish-list. Tare and Chandrakant Pandit see a bright future for this lad. And he wants to do his bit to pay them back. Perhaps, propelling the team to a 41st Ranji title might get the ball rolling.

Via Veergorkha

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