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Saurabh Netravalkar: USA cricket champion and Oracle software engineer

<div>Saurabh Netravalkar of USA celebrates after USA defeat Pakistan in a super over during the ICC Mens T20 Cricket World Cup on June 06, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)</div>
Saurabh Netravalkar of USA celebrates after USA defeat Pakistan in a super over during the ICC Mens T20 Cricket World Cup on June 06, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

NEW YORK - The United States edged cricket heavyweight Pakistan on Thursday in a Super Over tiebreaker for one of the biggest upsets ever at a Twenty20 World Cup.

And one of their star players is Saurabh Netravalkar, a 32-year-old San Mateo software engineer at Oracle.

The  left-arm fast bowler grabbed 2-18 off his four overs in regulation, conceded just 13 runs in the Super Over to seal the historic win for the U.S. at the Grand Prarie Cricket Stadium in Texas.

His double role as an engineer and sportsman wasn't lost on Front Office Sports, which tweeted his LinkedIn profile showing both of his professions.

In his first U.S. interview, Netravalkar spoke to KTVU on Friday, a day after the cricket upset from New York, where he had arrived at 2 a.m..

He's there ahead of Team USA's next game against India – his native homeland – on June 12.

Q: How does it feel to be making headlines as a top USA cricket player? 

Netravalkar:  I'm still digesting it. Actually, the feeling hasn't sunk in.

The match happened just yesterday, and it was a very big moment for not just me, for the entire team.

I've been playing for the USA national team since 2018, and this team has come a very long way since then.

We were playing in Division 4 and Division 3, and from there, to advance the ranks and make it to the World Cup.

That itself is a very special journey for each one of us.

And we've done it, sort of juggling our individual family lives and other work as well. And with the limited resources, since we all know that it's a growing sport here, it's not that popular in the US.

So, it feels really special.

Q: How do you juggle your full-time job at Oracle and also being an athlete?

Netravalkar: I currently work as a full-time software engineer at Oracle. So I moved to the U.S. in 2015 to pursue my graduate school degree.

I studied at Cornell University in New York, and I got a job in the Bay Area, and obviously I. had played a good level of cricket in India, where I am from. I did play for the junior Indian cricket team at that time. It's one of the most popular sports in India.

So I had that passion alive in me and I wanted to keep pursuing it.

I used to play social cricket and club cricket on the weekends and work on the weekdays, so that's how my routine used to be.

So I worked my day job. And then I used to go at night to train indoors for cricket.

And then I used to use the all the office gym and everything for my fitness and stuff.

In 2018, I made it to the U.S. national team.

Q: Has Oracle supported you? 

Netravalkar: Yes. I've been very grateful to to Oracle – especially my team. My manager has been very supportive in the sense of, if I'm on tour, she gives me the flexibility to sort of work remotely.

And it helps being a software engineer that I actually don't need to be physically present to do my day job. So that is a blessing in disguise.

My cricket coaches and my staff here have also been supportive too, if I have some work commitments during that time.

Q: What exactly do you do? 

Netravalkar: I work on a team called Oracle Text, which handles the searchability within the database. 

<div>Saurabh Netravalkar of USA celebrates victory during the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies; USA 2024 match between USA and Pakistan at Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium on June 06, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)</div>
Saurabh Netravalkar of USA celebrates victory during the ICC Men's T20 Cricket World Cup West Indies; USA 2024 match between USA and Pakistan at Grand Prairie Cricket Stadium on June 06, 2024 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Matt Roberts-ICC/ICC via Getty Images)

Q: Where do you practice?

Netravalkar: I practice locally, in indoor cages and training centers in Milpitas. There are very limited practice facilities across the U.S. But in the last two, three years there have been stadiums being built.

The Bay Area doesn't have a stadium, but it has two good two pro cricket pitches where we play minor league games. And I hope the stadium comes up soon. 

Q: How has the Bay Area fostered cricket?

Netravalkar: So there are multiple levels in which you can look at this.

So, there are a lot of promising kids. And there is talent for sure. And there are a lot of academies who sort of promote these kids and they play tournaments.

But I think the restriction is the resources.

We don't have proper cricket pitches – they are supposed to be clay and grass.

So instead, we mostly play on synthetic surfaces and astroturf.

I think, across the U.S., if we could invest more in that, that will obviously happen. It's a chicken-and-egg problem.

Once the senior team starts doing well, then you get more investment, and then you can build the facilities and then your grassroots stocks are doing well.

But for the seniors to do well, you need good players as well.

Q: Maybe your success will pave the way for that? 

Netravalkar: That's what we are trying to do. We are trying to give our best to represent the country and see what we can do for the growth of the sport here.

Q: How do you feel about playing Team India next?

Netravalkar: It's an emotional moment for me because I think some of the guys who are on that team used to be my childhood friends as well.

So I'm kind of happy for them as well that I could get to meet them.

I just want to encourage the fans to come out there, to understand the game and try to support us and we'll give our best to represent the country and do the best that we can.

This story was reported in Oakland, Calif. The Q&A interview was edited for clarity. 

Lisa Fernandez is a reporter for KTVU. Email Lisa at lisa.fernandez@fox.com or call her at 510-874-0139. Or follow her on Twitter @ljfernandez