Black Cap Rachin Ravindra on family and cricket in India

A cricket bat and a ball were all Rachin Ravindra needed when he visited family in Bengaluru, India. 

Speaking to each other was difficult – Ravindra was growing up in New Zealand, speaking English and couldn’t understand what his extended family was saying.  

So, cricket was how they talked. Ravindra’s uncles would bowl for him all day and he’d play in hallways and cramped backyards with his cousins.  

Years later, when a 22-year-old Ravindra stepped out on Kanpur’s Green Park Stadium for his debut test match with the Black Caps, there were moments where the all-rounder slipped into a familiar place despite the crowds and the pressure.  

Tom Latham congratulates Rachin Ravindra for taking a wicket during the Black Caps 2021 tour of India. Image: NZ Cricket NZ/Supplied

“I just felt like I was a kid back in India," he says, “It didn't ever click to me that I was like, ‘damn, I'm playing the Indian test team’.” 

Ravindra was born and raised in New Zealand after his parents moved to Wellington from Bengaluru in the 1990s. He says while he grew up “quite a Kiwi kid”, his parents kept close ties with family back home. 

Whether he was in India or New Zealand, cricket was a constant for him. His family was cricket-mad, and he started playing the game as a child. 

When Ravindra was older, he’d travel to India not just for family, but for cricket tours under the Hutt Hawks banner, a club his father manages. 

Set up in 2010, the Hutt Hawks is a touring club based in the Hutt Valley. Cricketers from clubs across the Wellington region form a team under the Hutt Hawks banner and travel to India every year, to play cricket for a solid two or three weeks. 

“It’s about trying to give exposure for kids and adults, a whole range of ages really, to experience India [and] its cricket conditions,” Ravindra says.  

Over the last decade, these tours have been a staple in his cricketing calendar, although they’re currently on hiatus due to Covid.  

“It’s an amazing tool in a lot of cricketers’ development in Wellington and a lot of guys playing for Wellington right now have been through that system.” 

Ravindra’s first trip with the Hutt Hawks was when he was about 10 or 11 to Bengaluru. Later, he’d travel as part of the team to the district of Anantapur, in southern India where they’d connect with a non-profit called the Rural Development Trust (RDT). 

“[RDT] does some incredible work for India in that region. They're a charitable organization that has done so much for the district of Anantapur.” 

Part of RDT’s work involves running sports programmes and initiatives for developing young athletes. The organisation runs sporting venues – including cricket grounds – for training purposes and the Hutt Hawks have often travelled to play against local teams at these venues.  

The trips were invaluable for cricketers like Ravindra keen to learn to play in India’s climate – and against Indian players’ spin on the ball – something Ravindra says is taught differently from New Zealand, making it challenging to face.  

The lessons he learned from those trips intertwined with his training in New Zealand, where he was quickly getting noticed as a rising cricket talent. 

He represented New Zealand twice at the Under-19 World Cups, first in 2016 and 2018, and in the 2018-2019 season, he signed with Wellington. His game drew attention from the top levels and he was called up to play for the Black Caps at 21 and debuted at 22.  

“Playing for the Black Caps was always the dream.”  

His debut came in September 2021, when the Black Caps faced India in a test two-match series. 

The day before the first test, Ravindra was capped in an experience he says was “incredibly special”. Former cricketer and assistant coach Jimmy Pamment spoke to the team about his life and experiences and gave the caps out to the players. Ravindra’s cap had his playing number – 282 – embroidered on it and he describes the moment as “being put on a pedestal” for the team, emphasising what it means to play for New Zealand.   

On the field for that first test in India, the Black Caps were facing a tough fight – as Ravindra came up to bat alongside Ajaz Patel, the pair batted for 90 minutes, holding off India’s world-class spinners to end the test match in a draw. 

That’s when Ravindra says he slipped into that feeling of playing cricket as a kid in India.  

“I barely noticed the crowd. I barely noticed anything. It was only until the last over when I wasn't on strike and I was like 'I'm probably not gonna face the ball here, the game’s not in my hands’" 

“I just looked around the full stadium, crowd cheering, going crazy. It was definitely a moment to remember and overall, a pinch yourself sort of thing for a debut.” 

His composure and performance drew praise from coach Gary Stead, who said “[It’s] proof to himself that he belongs at this level.”  

His second-ever test was also one to remember – facing India in Mumbai, he was the one to seal the 10th wicket, catching a skier from Mohammed Siraj. 

“Ajaz bowled incredibly well, and he deserved every one wicket of those 10. Being a part of that history was cool,” Ravindra says. “He's just an incredible player and an even better bloke, so being able to share that with him was pretty cool.” 

On his return to New Zealand following the second test, Ravindra next took to the pitch when the Black Caps faced Bangladesh in January 2022.  

Banner Image: Rachin Ravindra in the Black Caps 2021 tour of India. Image courtesy of NZ Cricket.

- Asia Media Centre