From a Potentially Career-threatening Injury to INR 2.2 Crore IPL Contract, Resilient Shushant Mishra Ready for Domestic Grind

5 years ago when Rahul Dravid was developing a talent pool of youngsters as the director of the National Cricket Academy (NCA) and nurturing them as the India Under-19 coach, a left-arm pacer from Jharkhand was taking wings under his watchful eyes. India dominated the 2019-20 Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, only to be denied by Bangladesh in a nervy final.

Over time, a few players from that batch made it to the senior men’s team while a few waited for their turn.

Cut to 2023, Dubai is hosting the IPL auctions for the first time and as many as nine uncapped cricketers bagged multimillion deals – many from that 2019-20 batch as well and one of them was Jharkhand’s Sushant Mishra, who was signed by Gujarat Titans for a whopping 2.2 crore.

CricketNext caught up with the 23-year-old at Delhi’s Palam Cricket Ground a day prior to Jharkhand’s Ranji Trophy fixture against hosts Services. He came right after an intense net-practice but the exertion vanished from his face when he recalled the moment when he went under the hammer.

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“It was so tense that I left my home at one point and went to my friend’s place. But it was still claustrophobic so I went to the terrace. And when the bidding began… main to emotional ho gaya tha (I got emotional),” he said.

People who had Mishra’s number started ringing him. But he himself was waiting for his parents to call. And once he saw his mother’s name flashing on the screen, he didn’t lose a second to pick it up. And when he reached home, he had a little crowd at his doorstep congratulating him on his achievement.

It was the next day when he sat down with his parents and the entire family soaked the feeling in together.

“My mother was in tears. Too many people were at our home and congratulating us. Us din to time hi nahi mila baat karne ka. I spoke to them the next day and they were pretty proud of me,” he added. Sushant, being the only child of his parents, has seen their struggle growing up.

There was a time when his father lost his job which jolted the family. The young cricketer said it was cricket and almighty’s grace that kept them going amid adversities. “My parents had struggled a lot, especially my Papa. He lost his job once, we were financially weak. He took to my practice but people around him never encouraged him. But cricket aur bhagwaan ka support tha to sab achha hoga gaya,” Mishra said.

Speaking of struggles, Mishra recalled the year 2018 when he hurt his shoulder badly as he dived in one of the Under-19 games representing Jharkhand. His career was at stake and surgery was the only way ahead. The operation got delayed because it took them time to arrange the money. The cost of treatment was too high, but Mr & Mrs Mishra didn’t give up on their kid’s future.

“Agar wo surgery nahi ho pati to mai shayad fir kabhi khel nahi paata. The doctors said surgery was the only option if I wanted to play further. But our financial condition wasn’t that good. We couldn’t afford it instantly. It took my parents almost 4 months to arrange 3-4 lakhs and get the operation done. But abhi life bahot smooth hai cricket ki wajah se,” he added.

And this is one of the reasons why he is looking forward to working with GT head coach Ashish Nehra who himself walked hand-in-hand with surgeries throughout his career and kept making inspirational comebacks.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Nehra sir. His journey has been inspirational. He kept on returning to the Indian dressing room despite multiple injuries and even made it to the T20Is in the later stage of his career. So, it’s a huge thing for a cricketer in his career,” Mishra said

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The left-arm quick, who initially wanted to be a batter, was so inspired by India’s World Cup triumph in 2011 that he decided to take up the sport, and also the Dhoni-effect. Hailing from Ranchi, Mishra also drew inspiration from the local hero and even had opportunities to meet him in person and pick his brain.

“I’ve mostly met him in the ground, while training. Whenever I have spoken to him, it’s about cricket. The lessons I learned were about that particular condition or pitch,” he said.

Mishra had to wait for his domestic debut for more than a year after representing India in the Under-19 World Cup as the cricketing activities in the country had halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In December 2021, he received his debut cap in a Vijay Hazare Trophy game against Delhi and since then, he has played 10 List A Matches and picked 15 wickets at an economy rate of 5.63. He has 20 wickets in 7 First-class games and 7 wickets in 4 T20s. He is yet to play his first game in the ongoing Ranji Trophy 2024.

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