Ricky Bhui says the hardest thing for him, over the last nine months, has been resisting the temptation to dig into a bowl of hot steamed rice. Bhui, whose unbeaten 94 helped India Under-19 beat the South African team on Wednesday, used to be considerably overweight for a 16-year-old, but having carefully monitored his diet, he’s got himself in good shape.
“My parents are very surprised with the self-control that I have shown. Being a Bengali, rice is my favourite. It’s been difficult saying no all the time, but I guess it’s helping me,” admits Bhui, a resident of Visakhapatnam who represents Andhra in domestic age-group cricket.
In January this year, Bhui’s name was announced in the list of probables for India’s under-19 team. It was then that he decided to shed some kilos and add weight to his claim.
“I absolutely wanted to play for the Indian under-19 team, and I did not want to be rejected on the basis of my weight,” he says.
Bhui, who was 82kg at the start of the year, then embarked on a strict fitness regimen and when he turned out for India in the Youth ODIs in Sri Lanka, he cut a rather trim figure, having lost a whopping 14 kgs.
While losing weight may not have a direct correlation with runs scored, Bhui says it has helped him become more confident about himself. “It’s not as if I wasn’t batting like this when I was hefty. But there is something that has changed, and yesterday, I showed exactly what all I could offer to the team,” he says.
On Wednesday, the 16-year-old walked in with India tottering at 47 for three, in the chase of a 271. “They were bowling really quick, but I was game for it. I didn’t play flashy strokes. I just kept looking for singles, and when Sarfaraz (Khan) started batting with me, it got much easier,” he says.