Mukesh Kumar’s remarkable cricket journey mirrors a classic Bollywood coming-of-age tale, as the talented Bengal seamer has achieved selection in both the Test and ODI squads for India’s upcoming tour of the West Indies. Originally from Kakarkund village in Gopalganj district of Bihar, Mukesh embarked on his cricketing pursuit with little knowledge of pace, dedicating his life to bowling a consistent good-length delivery.
Mukesh Kumar’s cricket journey took off with Bihar’s ‘Pratibha ki Khoj’ trial in 2008-09. He showcased his talent by securing 34 wickets in seven matches during the 25-over per side tournament. A year later, he represented Bihar U-19 in the BCCI-hosted Associate & Affiliate Tournament.
In 2012, Kumar relocated to Kolkata to assist his father’s struggling taxi business, against his father’s wishes. However, he defied expectations and started playing local matches in the second league, earning a modest income of Rs 400-500.
In 2014, fate smiled upon Mukesh during the Cricket Association of Bengal’s ‘Vision 2020 program’ trials. Ranadeb Bose, the former Bengal pacer and bowling coach, identified the young talent and promptly selected him for the Bengal team. Mukesh’s consistent performances caught further attention, resulting in his call-up to the India A team for the series against New Zealand.
He impressed the management with a five-wicket haul during the New Zealand series. Mukesh gained greater confidence and secured his maiden call-up to the Indian ODI squad for the South Africa series. With 149 wickets in the red-ball format at an impressive average of 21.55, including six five-wicket hauls, Kumar has displayed his prowess.
Arun Lal, the former Bengal coach, praises Mukesh’s ability to bowl long spells, honed through training outdoors and in nets. Lal compares him to Pakistan’s Mohammed Abbas, highlighting his tenacious line outside the off-stump. Despite not being a 140kmph bowler, Mukesh’s precision and unwavering spirit make him a formidable opponent who demands reliable slip fielders.
The 29-year-old’s fortunes took a turn in the IPL 2023 auction when he became a surprising pick, attracting fierce bidding between the Delhi Capitals and the Chennai Super Kings. Ultimately, the Delhi Capitals secured his services for a whopping Rs 5.5 crore. While the financial windfall brought changes to his life, a few setbacks in the IPL raised questions about his performance in white-ball cricket.
As a standby player for the World Test Championship, Mukesh also traveled to England, and now he finds himself in the Test team for the much-anticipated West Indies tour, further solidifying his promising career.