Does IPL auction cross your mind? You ask, and on the other end of the phone, Saurabh Netravalkar simply laughs before coming up with an emphatic “no” in a booming baritone. Netravalkar played a crucial role in newcomers USA’s stunning win over former champions Pakistan in the T20 World Cup on Thursday. “It is just one match and we have done well. The focus should be on the next game and frankly speaking, all of us in the United States of America cricket team, are trying to come to terms with our achievements.

“It is yet to sink in and things you are talking about, if it happens organically, it will happen. We are still trying to digest what happened,” the former India U-19 left-arm pacer, who made the difference with a brilliant Super Over against Pakistan, told PTI in an exclusive interview on Friday.

An alumni of the prestigious Cornell University and a senior techie (coder) at the Oracle, Netravalkar juggled academics and cricket with aplomb.

“I have never felt the pressure. When you love something, it is never a job for you. So when I am out there on the field, I love bowling and trying to out-think a batter. When I am coding, I love doing that and hence it never feels like work,” the left-arm seamer, who has suddenly become the talk of the town, couldn’t have put it more lucidly.

“Actually, we just flew down from Dallas to New York. I will be honest that it has been quite overwhelming. I wish I could personally thank each and everyone for their lovely messages. I feel blessed,” one could sense the gratitude in his voice.

So what was the strategy for the Super Over and when did he come to know that he would be bowling? “It wasn’t pre-decided and only after the regulation 20 overs did skipper (Monank Patel) and coach (Stuart Law) informed me about it. I am thankful to them for showing faith in me.” He then gave an insight into the US strategy.

“The plan was simple that I will try and bowl wide yorkers to the right handers and try to keep it out of his range as the boundary on that side was bigger. First ball the batter shifted and didn’t get a wide and second ball, he stayed rooted and connected, and then, I got a couple of wides, as I was trying for wide lines.

“But I must say that 18 runs helped and all those extra runs that Harmeet (Singh) and Aaron (Jones) ran, helped. Basically, if you are defending around 20, all you need is three good balls, and the job is done. It is one of the best matches I have played.” However, Netravalkar would also say matter of factly that while things are looking up for those who want to pursue cricket as profession in the US, but for him, his day job at Oracle is still his primary source of “bread and butter”.

“The best part is that I have got very supportive bosses at Oracle and I am allowed to work remotely when I am on tour, playing for the United States.

“So on match days, I am excused from work but then there are scheduled project meetings which warrants my presence and then I work my practice schedule accordingly. I would also thank US Cricket board as they also are flexible if I have meetings lined up.” His is a fascinating story.

“I can tell you that when I play local matches or club games in the United States, I have often logged in for a meeting at the lunch break and people have been very accommodating.

“At Oracle, they all know by now I play cricket and everyone is happy to support. I work in team Oracle text and I am primarily a coder, who works on SQL and C (programming languages),” he said.

What are the prospects of a full-time cricket career in the United States? “Well, if you have a Major League Contracts, those are good and you can have a full-time cricket career.

“Minor League Cricket is also seeing an upswing but another avenue is some weekend ‘Pop-Up’ tournaments, basically played from Friday to Sunday in Houston, Florida where you can actually earn well.” Come June 12, and Netravalkar will be facing the Indian team and he is quite emotional about it.

“I know all of them and Surya (Yadav) and myself have played together for Mumbai U15s, U-17, U-19s. It is so good to see what he has achieved and it will be nice to catch up with them. Playing against India would be truly emotional.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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