Everybody’s talking about Rachin Ravindra.
The 23-year-old from the Wellington Firebirds has just become the first rookie to score three centuries at an ICC Cricket World Cup.
But while he may be a new face to a legion of new international admirers, in New Zealand he’s been on the radar for years already.
Ravindra was identified early as a player of distinctive promise.
Flashback: Sir Richard Hadlee presents Ravindra with the 2016 Gillette Cup award for young cricketer of the year PHOTOSPORT
A tallish, strong, left-hand batsman who can rip the ball with his left-arm off-spin as well, his BLACKCAPS debut came two years ago when he was just 21.
But even before that, he was in action for New Zealand A — the pathway to the top side, as a teenager in 2018.
By that stage, the mature youngster hadn’t even played List A One-Day or First-Class cricket for the Firebirds, making his debut in both formats a level up, for the NZ A team against Pakistan A.
Flashback: as captain of Hutt International School, Ravindra receives the Spirit of Cricket award at the NZCT Secondary School Boys First XI Cup in 2016 PHOTOSPORT
He’d also been a New Zealand Under 19 representative at the 2016 (in Bangladesh) and again in the 2018 (in New Zealand) ICC Under 19 Men’s World Cups, scoring a century in Christchurch during the latter tournament against Kenya U19. The very next game, he snared four wickets and a runout to win against South Africa.
Now he’s in the big league, playing in India in his first top flight World Cup tournament with a sky high average.
The young Firebird PHOTOSPORT
Fittingly, his third century came in Bengaluru — where his parents are from, and where Rachin himself used to travel back to in his teens to play for his father, Ravi Krishnamurty’s old club, in between the New Zealand seasons and school. His dad used to take a group of schoolboys from Wellington to Bengaluru to play each year.
That was how Rachin came to be watching the all-time thriller 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup final, between England and the BLACKCAPS, in a Bengaluru Stock Exchange bar.
Flashback: Batting for NZ A against India A in 2020 PHOTOSPORT
Ravindra would eventually make his Test debut in India, as Test BLACKCAP number 282, in November 2021, as well.
His garnered experience with the conditions in the subcontinent helped his confidence along the way, especially when he was facing spin — and bowling it — in Indian conditions. He was grateful for those teenage trips. Talk about a finishing school.
"The conditions over here are so different to what we have at home,” he says.
“Before this World Cup, I was fortunate enough to have played in Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, and up north. It gives you a bit of a sense of belonging, calms you down.”
Even for those who’ve been following his growth in the Wellington Firebirds for the last few years, the World Cup triple ton feat is something out the box.
He headed to India with the BLACKCAPS having scored just three Ford Trophy centuries, and one half century, in 15 matches since his November 2019 Wellington debut. His best for New Zealand A was 61.
In the other formats, he has four first-class Plunket Shield centuries for the Firebirds (averaging over 37.00) and one apiece for New Zealand A and Durham, for whom he produced his career best knock of 217 not out last year.
In T20s, he has a best of 67 in the Dream11 Super Smash, and 18 matches under his belt for the BLACKCAPS already.
One to watch? No prizes for guessing that. Face for the future? How about man of the moment.
With World Cup centuries against England (on his World Cup debut, off just 82 balls — a Kiwi record fastest ton in these tournaments); Australia; and now Pakistan, Ravindra’s star has risen.