So, when the former Indian captain hurriedly rushed to embrace him after Mukesh secured his first Test wicket, it felt like a surreal moment for the Bengal seamer.
Unlike some who make their Test debuts at a young age, Mukesh had to wait until a few months before his 30th birthday to get his chance. Hailing from Bihar’s Gopalganj, he can be considered a late bloomer in the cricketing world.
However, his journey to success was marked by perseverance and consistent performances as he proved his mettle at various stages, progressing from the Bengal U-23 team to eventually making his mark in India A over the past seven years.
“When I got the wicket, Virat bhaiya ran up and hugged me. I was in a different world. The man I have watched all these years on TV and looked up to is hugging you. It felt great,” a beaming Mukesh told his senior pace bowling partner (younger in age though) Mohammed Siraj in an interaction for BCCI.TV.
Mukesh had an impressive debut on a flat lifeless deck with figures of 18-6-48-2 to show for his efforts.
“When you (Siraj) and JD (Unadkat) bhai were bowling, Rohit bhai said ‘it’s not a pitch where you can get wickets instantly. You need to work hard’. I had to set up the batter with consistent bowling,” said Mukesh, who was picked by former Bengal seamer Ranadeb Bose, during an open trial back in 2013-14 season under the ambitious ‘Vision2020’ project.
Although he was mentally ready, having gone through the paces in the nets, the moment he was told at the team meeting a day before, it took some time to sink in.
“When I came to know that I will be playing, I was shocked and actually completely zoned out. Whether I play or not, I am always prepared, so I went to attend the team meeting, keeping in mind that I need to follow my process. But there was some gut feel that I might play.”
His mother was emotional and all those associated in this journey were very happy.
“So when it’s morning over here, its evening in India. So by evening, when I reached hotel, I spoke to my mom, that’s a special feeling that ‘Maa main desh ke liye khel raha hoon (Mom, I am playing for the country). All my relatives and all those who supported me from start are happy,” he told Siraj.
(With PTI Inputs)