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From marketing to being Holland’s matchwinner, Andhra-born Anil hopes to play World Cup in India- The Uncut

The Uncut

CHENNAI: Chasing a mammoth target of 375 against West Indies in their ICC World Cup Qualifier match in Harare on Monday, the Netherlands were 170/4 after 29.1 overs when skipper Scott Edwards joined Anil Teja Nidamanuru in the middle.

Born in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, Anil then stitched together a 143-run partnership with his captain for the fourth wicket. The 28-year-old Anil might have lost his wicket before the Netherlands shocked the two-time world champions in a Super Over thriller but it was his quickfire hundred (111 off 76 balls, 11×4, 3×6), which is also the fastest ODI century by a Dutch player, that kept his team in the match.

Having played 16 ODIs for the Dutch side so far, Anil must have enjoyed the latest innings the most. The win could act as a catalyst for the team as the Netherlands now have a realistic chance of making it to the World Cup scheduled in India in October-November this year. And Anil would definitely want that to happen as he wants to exhibit his skills in a country where it all started more than two decades ago.

“It will be a dream come true to come to India and play. India loves cricketers, it’s a part of their culture. It would mean everything to me, especially with my family in attendance. Having them at the ground would be nicer,” the right-hand batter told this daily from Harare after his team’s memorable victory.

With his mother Padmavathi Pallekona studying and working in Singapore, Anil grew up at his grandparents’ home in Vijayawada.

“My grandfather Pitchia Shastri bought me the first cricket bat there (Vijayawada) and encouraged me to play. When I was six, my mother got a job in Auckland and we both moved to New Zealand. Say it a coincidence, my mother’s hospital where she got the job was next to Cornwall Cricket Club, the venue where Kiwi greats like Martin Crowe and Mark Greatbatch honed their talent. I also started training there once we settled in Auckland.”

Anil played age-group cricket in the city before making his List A debut for Auckland Aces at the age of 23 in 2018. He also went on to play T20 and one-dayers for the team but given the tough competition, he could never become the permanent fixture of the team.

“I worked very hard to get into that team but never managed to cement my place. The best way to continue playing cricket was to go abroad so I started playing as an overseas professional for clubs in England. The weather permitted me to do so as when it was winter in New Zealand, it was summer in England. So in that way, I could play cricket throughout the year.”

‘Played cricket after working 40 hours a week’

However, by then Anil, who also bowls right-arm off-break, has started looking for a full-time contract. He had two options back then — either move to Ireland or Netherlands.

“In 2019, I decided to go to the Netherlands for six months. But the stint which was supposed to be of six months extended as I got a job in the marketing department of a technology company. My initial aim was to live and work hard but somewhere back in my mind there was always that dream of playing cricket. Work was the driving force but cricket was my passion. So despite working 40 hours a week, I started doing fitness training in the morning and cricket training in the evening after work.”

The hard work paid off as he made his international debut against West Indies in an ODI on May 31 last year. His team might have lost the match but Anil scored an unbeaten 58 to impress all and sundry.

“The team management is very understanding. They are very supportive as they let me work as well as play. I know hard work is the only option so I make maximum use of time I have after work. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Netherlands coaches, support staff and everyone associated with the game in the country. The coaches especially head coach Ryan Cook take time out for me so that I can do one-on-one quality training. The trainers, the support staff they all are very supportive.”

Speaking on the game plan while chasing the improbable total against the mighty West Indies, Anil said, “Chasing 375, there is only one way to play. The openers gave us a good platform. Given the momentum we had, we just have to be positive. As far as I was concerned, my strategy was to be positive for the first 2-3 balls of every over. The icing on the cake is the Super Over win. It really means a lot as a century wouldn’t have made me happy had we lost the game. Credit goes to the boys, the coaching and support staff.”

‘Kohli, a role model on and off the field’

Like many players across the globe, Anil is a big fan of India’s star batter, Virat Kohli.

“Of course, it has to be Kohli for a number of reasons. I have scored only two international centuries so far but here is he who has scored more than 70 hundreds. I really loved the way he goes about his game. We played against him in the T20 World Cup in Australia. I was amazed at how he constructed his innings. Besides, the way he carries himself off the field. He is fully professional and a fitness freak. Basically a role model both on and off the field.”

Anil tries to visit India at least once a year but his work and cricket commitments mean he is forced to miss the trip quite often. The last time he visited the country was in March 2021.

“My grandfather passed away five years ago but my grandmother still lives there. I really hope we make it to the World Cup so that I come to India and play with my grandmother and family members watching me from the stands,” signed off Anil.

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