FEBRUARY 12, 2024
Raj Limbani’s transformation from learning inswing bowling just eight months before the U-19 World Cup to becoming a formidable bowler, capable of troubling batsmen with his newfound skill, marks a remarkable journey in his cricketing career.
Raj Limbani’s in-swing bowling caught everyone’s attention at the U-19 World Cup. In the final, the right-arm quick was India’s best bowler, picking up three for 38, though it wasn’t enough to get the desired result.
However, Limbani’s long-time coach Digvijay Singh Rathwa says he never had a natural in-swinger and had to work to master it last year.
“With Rathwa’s assurance, Limbani was ready to take up the challenge and for the next eight months, worked on his inswing.”
This line encapsulates the pivotal moment where Limbani, guided by Rathwa’s mentorship and inspired by Rathwa’s own resilience in the face of adversity, decides to embrace the challenge of improving his skills as a fast bowler. It highlights the importance of mentorship, perseverance, and willingness to step out of one’s comfort zone in order to grow and evolve as an athlete.
“I used to open for Baroda in U-16 and U-19 cricket. In 2015, I had GBS (Guillain-Barre Syndrome), a very rare disease in India. I was just 19 and on a ventilator at Mahavir Hospital in Surat for a year. I told Raj ‘look at me, I fought death and came back, and here you are worrying about your bowling. At least give it a try,'” says Rathwa.
The key progression in the bowler’s development, as outlined by Rathwa, is encapsulated in the following line:
“He was glad that without losing pace, he had learned a new art and I was relieved as a coach as well.”
Irfan bhai said he has got potential and a good head on his shoulders and with a little bit of guidance, he can become a good end product in a couple of years.”
“He clocks 135 kmph consistently and at the National Cricket Academy, he has clocked 141 twice. Pace is something that we will work along with his batting once he returns home,” he says.
In the realm of cricket, aspirations often burn brightly within the hearts of talented players, propelling them towards the highest echelons of the sport. For Rathwa, this desire blazed fervently since his U-16 days, igniting discussions on workload management and the pursuit of first-class cricket with unwavering determination.
From the outset, Rathwa’s passion for the game was unmistakable. Even as a young cricketer, he displayed a maturity beyond his years, recognizing the importance of balancing ambition with practicality. While others indulged in the thrill of youth cricket, Rathwa’s sights were set on a loftier goal – the coveted realm of first-class cricket.
Limbani, his closest confidant and fellow cricketer, observed Rathwa’s unwavering dedication with admiration tinged with a hint of envy. While both shared a love for the game, Rathwa’s singular focus on progression to the next level set him apart. Limbani couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy, not for Rathwa’s talent, but for his unyielding commitment to his dreams.
In their conversations, Rathwa would often delve into the intricacies of workload management, a topic that seemed mundane to many of their peers but held profound significance in Rathwa’s pursuit of excellence. He understood the delicate balance between pushing oneself to the limit and avoiding burnout, recognizing that sustainable growth required both ambition and restraint.
For Rathwa, the path to first-class cricket was not merely a matter of talent or skill; it was a journey of self-discipline and resilience. He meticulously crafted his training regimen, allocating time for skill refinement, physical conditioning, and mental fortitude. Every decision he made, whether on or off the field, was driven by his overarching goal – to don the whites of a first-class cricketer.
As time passed, Rathwa’s dedication bore fruit, earning him recognition and accolades at various levels of the game. Yet, amidst the triumphs and setbacks, his resolve remained unshaken. Limbani watched with a mixture of awe and admiration as Rathwa navigated the highs and lows of his cricketing journey with unwavering poise.
In Rathwa’s pursuit of first-class cricket, Limbani couldn’t help but recognize a reflection of his own aspirations, albeit tempered by a more cautious approach. While Rathwa chased his dreams with the fervor of a man possessed, Limbani found solace in the camaraderie they shared, knowing that even if their paths diverged, their bond forged on the cricket field would endure.
As they stood on the threshold of adulthood, their paths diverging once more, Limbani couldn’t help but feel a pang of nostalgia mingled with pride. Rathwa’s relentless pursuit of first-class cricket had transformed him from a promising talent into a beacon of inspiration for aspiring cricketers everywhere.
In Rathwa’s unwavering commitment, Limbani found not only a friend but a source of inspiration, a reminder that with dedication and perseverance, even the loftiest dreams could be within reach. And as Rathwa embarked on the next chapter of his cricketing journey, Limbani stood by his side, a silent witness to the indomitable spirit of a true cricketing prodigy.
“He loves bowling with the red ball. Even before going to the World Cup, he used to bowl with the red ball… He is aware of this aspect… He also enjoys bowling long spells… He is from the IPL generation but is very old-fashioned when it comes to cricket.”
“Final hai, mujhe maloom tha ek pair pe bhi bowling daalega (This is the final and I knew he would bowl even on one leg),” says Raj’s father.
“This is what he has lived for. I don’t think he ever had any other plans barring cricket. I am happy that he is living his dream,” he says.