That, he has been among the finds of the tournament, having been in terrific form right from the inaugural match against England, forms the unadulterated cricketing rationale.
There was, however, another rationale – perhaps the more significant one – which explains his exponentially expanding popularity in a foreign nation.
The reason being – his roots, which didn’t make him as ‘foreign’ as his teammates.
The Quint spoke with someone very close to the cricketer, who chose not to be named, to know more about his journey.
Growing Up in a House That Emanated Cricket
When Ravi Krishnamurthy landed a software architect's job in New Zealand in 1997 – two years before his son, Rachin, was born – he had to leave India behind.
What he didn’t leave behind, is India’s differentiator – a sport which doubles up as a discerning and unifying element for Indians abroad – cricket.
The Krishnamurthy household emanated cricket, and in more ways than one. Look around, and one would find cricket gear adorning every corner. – bats, pads, gloves, you name them. Get on the computer, and the solitary item one would find is cricket video games. Running on the television would either be live cricket matches, or repeat telecasts. At the assemblage of old friends, there would be former cricketers – the Srinaths, Viswanaths and Arunkumars.
There was no overwhelmingly explicit directive for Rachin to inculcate his father’s passion, but it naturally rubbed off on him. By three, he would pick up the bat and swing at the balls. And as it turned out, he was more than decent at it.
Always a Step Ahead. Or Maybe, Two.
The norm in New Zealand is to enrol kids in softball cricket training when they turn five, and transition to the hard ball only when they turn nine. An exception in this case, Rachin was playing with the five-year-olds when he was three. Subsequently, by six years of age, he was ready for hardball cricket, and was fighting toe-to-toe with kids three years older than him.
This triggered a butterfly effect, wherein Rachin never competed with players of his age – at least, in his blossoming years. At nine, when his peers were commencing their hardball training, Rachin was playing in the U-15 competitions for Wellington. At 12, he was a part of the U-17 team, and at 16, he would play for New Zealand in the 2016 ICC U-19 World Cup.
Returning with seven wickets and 107 runs, including a half-century, Rachin continued plying his trade for the age-level Wellington teams, till he was awarded a professional contract in 2018. In the same year, he competed in another U19 World Cup, and this time, emerged as among the tournament’s best performers – with 13 wickets and 223 runs.
When Bond (Shane, Not James) Discovered the Batter in Rachin
Five years down the line, we would have seen Rachin as the spin-bowling all-rounder for New Zealand, who occasionally plays cameos at the lower-middle order.
Had it not been for former Kiwi speedster, Shane Bond.
An opening batter since the day he lifted the bat, Rachin’s praiseworthy bowling figures saw the management considering him as a spinner. Accordingly, in an unofficial game where Rachin was playing with the New Zealand A side, he was named at number 10 on the batting order.
But with Ajaz Patel – another Kiwi cricketer with roots in India – as his partner, Rachin played an innings that transcended everything that a team would ideally expect from a number 10. In attendance, Shane Bond was impressed enough to convince the team management about promoting the all-rounder.
On his first-class debut – facing a formidable Pakistan A side led by Mohammad Rizwan – Rachin batted at number four, and scored 70 runs in the first innings.
The Nation Roots for Rachin
The story since then is well-documented. He made his T20I debut against Bangladesh in September 2021, wherein he was dismissed on a duck, but more importantly, was awarded the opening slot.
The Test debut arrived a couple of months later – against India in Kanpur. He made his mark by playing a crucial role in New Zealand’s escape from a defeat, courtesy of a last-wicket partnership that lasted 52 deliveries, on a spinning track against the three-pronged attack of Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel.
His partner – as fate, divine decree, astral influence – whatever you want to call it, was Ajaz Patel.
At the Krishnamurthy household, there haven’t been any elaborate celebrations after the century against England. Nor has anything been planned for his next century.
But for all the attempts to steer clear of the ballyhoo, Indian cricket fans will know when a talented player sets foot in the nation. Accordingly, as Rachin returns to his roots, he finds India rooting for him.