News of Satnam Singh, a 7’2 footer from a small village in Punjab picked in NBA draft as the first ever Indian made sporting headlines in 2015.But things didn’t go the way he would have liked in the next two years.”I had a big problem with no playing time at NBA. I would lose my mind. I would consider going back home. Then I would convince myself, I can’t do that. I will have to play and complete my contract, try and do something. As a last resort I would go to the gym. Sometimes at 1am in the night; lifting weights or something else,” Satnam, speaking to India Today, recalls his mental struggle as an Indian debutant at the world’ richest basketball league.Registering merely 7.1 minutes per game of playing time in two seasons of Dallas Mavericks’ development league later, Satnam’s NBA contract has now expired and his stint’s utility went nothing beyond the symbolism of breaking barriers for an Indian at NBA.”The problem with me there was I went from high school. I came in as an international player, they haven’t seen me playing. In America the rule is you go to college and than move to NBA. 90 percent people are picked from college. They don’t watch high school much, just college. I didn’t get much of a chance,” he explains.You were given this life, because you’re strong enough to live it. #PERSISTENCE pic.twitter.com/6vyngzlvUt- Satnam Singh Bhamara (@hellosatnam) September 28, 2017But many experts reckon unless Satnam, an unknown quantity, had managed to take rapid strides, he was never going to get serious game time in the mainstream league. Just like introduction of Canadian of Indian origin, Sim Bhullar earlier, NBA’s primary objective was to make NBA attractive for the populous Indian market.advertisementBhullar who got a little more play time at the NBA’s development league, now plays league basketball in Taiwan.Satnam is so disillusioned with his NBA experience that the idea of playing overseas itself does not appeal to him currently. “Now I have come back to India. I will play for the Indian team. I will work on my game as much as I can. I will play for Punjab, any small tournament. I want playing time. The more I play my game will improve,” he speaks in earnest.However Satnam’s time with the national side on return, including at the FIBA Asia Cup hasn’t been very fruitful. But the reluctance to play for India when drafted in the NBA has now turned into a pledge to make up for lost time. “The good thing is I am back in India. I want to play for India and show America and the world what we can do,” he says.”People used to tell me you are the first Indian at NBA. We will project your face. I would say face and stuff is ok but I want to become a face that can show the world how much progress India can make in basketball. Even it takes 1, 2 or 20 years. I am not going to quit basketball,” he gesticulates.You gotta work hard! #determination pic.twitter.com/nQqoyUGAyF- Satnam Singh Bhamara (@hellosatnam) September 27, 2017His comments of ‘no future for youngsters in basketball in India’, Satnam says was a case of being ‘misquoted’. “All I am saying is wherever you are, do well. But take care of yourself. I am going to give all I have to improve my game. Where ever you are you have to try and do well. And I have to do well in India,” he says.From being consigned to a farming life at an Indian village to being noticed by a billion plus Indians at the biggest of sporting leagues, identifying silver lining can’t be difficult for Satnam.And if nothing else works, the advantages of choosing the sport he has will always remain. “Very long heighted people have a problem. But in this game and with me working hard on my body, it’s a good thing. The harder I work, better it is for me,” he philosophies.
A well-deserved break on the cards, India captain Virat Kohli will be aiming to seal the ongoing five-match series when his team squares off against a confused New Zealand in the third ODI in Mount Maunganui on Monday.The Indian captain has been given a break as part of BCCI’s workload management programme and he would ensure that he finishes his assignment Down Under on a high after the maiden Test and ODI victories in Australia.An unassailable 3-0 lead would be a fitting revenge to India’s abject 0-4 humiliation during the 2014 limited-overs series.One of the primary focus of Monday’s encounter could be inclusion of Indian cricket’s latest enfant terrible Hardik Pandya, who is coming back from provisional suspension for his loose talk on a TV chat show.Pandya’s presence lends solidity and balance to the side and the skipper has time and again admitted it. The Baroda all rounder’s replacement Vijay Shankar is a decent cricketer but is yet to possess the X factor that Pandya has. That Shankar was given only two overs in the second ODI is an example that he is still not ready to shoulder extra responsibility.Pandya is a few clicks quicker than Shankar whose bowling in the three ODIs that he has played has not been penetrative.Pandya can also bat at No.6 if situation arises and his busy approach in batting can also get the scoreboard ticking in middle overs as the skipper wants.Otherwise Indian team doesn’t require much tinkering.advertisementNew Zealand, on the other hand, have looked clueless against India’s wrist-spin duo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, who accounted for 12 of the 20 wickets in the last two ODIs.Kuldeep has looked the most menacing as he claimed two four-wicket hauls in the first two ODIs, while Chahal returned with two wickets on both the matches.Seamers Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami also have done their job well, getting crucial breakthroughs for the team.India’s batting too have complemented the bowlers, looking rock solid in both the games with Shikhar Dhawan’s return to form lending the team the much-needed support at the top.If he had scored an unbeaten 75 in the first ODI, he cracked a 67-ball 66 in the second game.Vice captain Rohit Sharma, who had flopped in the first ODI, too entertained the spectators with a strokeful 87 en route his 14th century stand with opening partner Dhawan.Skipper Kohli also looked in good nick in both the matches, while Ambati Rayudu seemed to have found his mojo back with a 49-ball 47 on Saturday.An ageless Mahendra Singh Dhoni too continued his rampaging run with yet another unbeaten 33-ball 48 to take India across the 300-run mark, while Kedar Jadhav has also grabbed the role of a finisher with both hands.While the batting looked in place, there is a slight concern about the visitors fifth bowler’s slot where Pandya might fit in.India are yet to finalise their middle-order ahead of the World Cup.Once Kohli takes a break following the third ODI, Dinesh Karthik might get a place to boost the middle-order in the skipper’s absence.The team management might also think of handing an India debut to the very talented Shubman Gill.For Black Caps, captain Kane Williamson, who had top-scored in the first ODI, looked good during his short stay in the second ODI, while all-rounder Doug Bracewell tried to take the game to the wires with a 46-ball 57 but none of the other batters could convert their starts.”There’s two games in a row now where we’ve not had control at any stage, but we need to take small steps,” Williamson said.”Some of the dismissals were a result of us going too hard maybe. If you have wickets in hand, you never know. But we didn’t have wickets in hand. Those are the lessons that we need to take ahead.”SquadsIndia: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar, Shubman Gill, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Siraj, Khaleel Ahmed, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya.New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Martin Guptill, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls, Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Matt Henry, Colin Munro, Ish Sodhi, Micthell Santner, Tim Southee.Also Read | New Zealand police warn public to beware of Virat Kohli’s Indian team in funny postAlso Read | I will close my eyes and bowl wherever MS Dhoni wants me to: Kedar Jadhavadvertisement