01 Aug 2019, 22:31 IST
Natham, August 01: Failures have only emboldened Antony Dhas, be it on the cricket field or in life and he has emerged stronger every time. After a lean season in the previous Sankar Cement Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League, the Lyca Kovai Kings all-rounder is back to what he does best – smashing bowlers around the park and surprising batsmen with his medium-pace.
The 30-year-old tops the batting chart for his team after four matches this season (99 runs) and is also the team’s second-best bowler with five wickets behind fast bowler Thangarasu Natarajan (6 wickets, economy rate 8.83). More importantly, his batting strike rate of 202.40 is the highest in the tournament so far.
Contrast it to the 2018 season, where he could only muster 86 runs from 9 matches and picked three wickets with an economy rate of 11.07.
Dhas played one of the most breath-taking innings in the history of TNPL while smashing 63 runs off 26 balls (2 fours, 7 sixes) during the rain-affected match against Tuti Patriots at the NPR College Ground, Natham, Dindigul. Although LKK lost the match by six runs, Dhas won many hearts. Rival captain Subramania Siva admitted, “Dhas was the real hero,” after the game.
In LKK’s next match at the India Cements-Sankar Nagar ground in Tirunelveli, Dhas pummelled 32 off 13 balls and picked one wicket in his three overs conceding 15 runs to help his side record a 26-run victory against Ruby Trichy Warriors.
He could not do much in the nine-wicket defeat to Chepauk Super Gillies but LKK, who are the only team to have qualified in every season of the TNPL, will be looking to Dhas and his bold approach when they face defending champions Siechem Madurai Panthers in a crucial day game at the NPR College ground on Friday.
Both LKK and SMP are level on points (four points from four games) and a win for either team on Friday will help them consolidate their position.
“As a sportsman, I should accept defeat. We cannot enjoy just the victories,” says Dhas, who hails from a fishing family in Pallam Village, Kanyakumari. Forced to drop out of school when he was in Grade VII after his father suffered a back injury, young Dhas shouldered the responsibilities of the family to support his five sisters. Fishing in the vast expanse of the sea made him tougher and stronger, which also helped him in his cricket.
“I had some responsibilities to shoulder at a young age and my family was against my idea of playing cricket. But I am someone who believes in myself a lot. Fishing in the rough seas every day is like fighting for life. So, I was mentally prepared for the challenges in cricket life.
“More than being stubborn, I think I was confident. From the beginning till now, I have never lost confidence. Only when we see failure, we will feel low. But I push myself higher when I face failure,” he said.
Dhas started to play competitive cricket at the age of 18 and many in his village were sceptical about his progress in the sport. But he was determined to come good and he achieved that by heading to the seas in the night and playing and learning the nuances of the game by the day. His first coach, M Hariharasubramanian of Sunny Cricket Club in Nagercoil, played a big part in helping him achieve his objective.
“I started playing proper cricket when I was 18. The first time I saw leather-ball cricket, it was a different experience. I started playing for a club called Sunny Club in Nagercoil. From there, my coach Hari has helped me grow a lot. That is where I started my cricket journey.
“A lot of people said that cricket is like an ocean and it is very hard to achieve and stand out. They said I will have to work a lot. So I trained hard. I used to fish all night and practice all day. My coach always supported me, no matter what I wanted to do. That is when my journey got stronger. I wanted to achieve and I decided that I will not give this up no matter what. I rose step by step. And through every step, my coach was behind me like a rock. Even today he is still there for me. He has been a father-figure for me,” Dhas said.
“Antony Dhas has been my best student,” says Hariharasubramanian. “He did not have any shoes when he came to me, 12 years ago. But his hard work and determination stood out. He is a strong character,” the coach says.
Dhas’ disappointing season in 2018 invited lot of ridicule in the social media and it upset him deeply. But he found a way out by deactivating his Facebook account and now he is at peace with himself.
“I did not perform that well in TNPL last year. I used to think about it a lot. I saw a lot of comments about me on social media. Some even talked ill about my family’s condition. I saw that Facebook was affecting me a lot. I deactivated my Facebook account. I am in a very comfortable zone now. My wife helps me a lot. I feel very lucky at this point in my life. I have a daughter now and a lot of good things have happened in life after that. So, I am very content,” he said.
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