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How Basil Thampi braved the Kerala floods to make it to the cricket

Volunteers transport flood-relief supplies at Pandanad in Chengannur Taluk in Alappuzha on August 19 Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Kerala quick Basil Thampi enjoyed a two-week stint at the National Cricket Academy in Brisbane in July, as part of an exchange programme between Cricket Australia and the MRF Pace Foundation based in Chennai. He and Tamil Nadu seamer K Vignesh had the opportunity to work with Ryan Harris, Greg Chappell, and a battery of Under-19 Australian fast bowlers.

Upon his return to India, he planned to visit the MRF Pace Foundation in the second week of August and tune up further for the Duleep Trophy, the curtain-raiser to a bumper domestic season. He was keen to get his season started, but it had begun to rain heavily. He cancelled his trip to Chennai, thinking he would go straight to Dindigal in Tamil Nadu for the Duleep Trophy. But the rain continued, triggering the worst floods in Kerala in nearly a century.

Having been asked to report to Dindigul on August 21, to join the India Blue squad two days before the start of their four-day match against India Red, Thampi was supposed to fly out of Kochi but then the airport shut because of flooding. His fall-back option was a train to Madurai on 20th, but that was cancelled too at the last moment. Despite the crisis in Kerala escalating, Thampi had mailed the BCCI, saying that he would somehow make it to the Duleep Trophy.

"I explained to the BCCI my situation, but I was desperate not to miss the start of the domestic season," Thampi told ESPNcricinfo. "How can I miss the start of the season?"

He and his brother decided to wade through the flood waters and make a dash for Madurai, which is about 70 km away from Dindigul, by car. Since his place at Perumbavoor in Ernakulam was on a higher plain, his family and their property - including the car - was safe.

As Thampi and his brother travelled towards the Tamil Nadu border via Kumily, a "frightening" landslide sent them through detours but they made it. Thampi's brother dropped him in Dindigul on the 22nd night, stayed the night with him, and returned to Perumbavoor the next day, after the situation had improved back home.

"The landslide was a frightening experience and we could not cross the Kumily check post," Thampi said. "But I was determined to reach Dindigul and once we reached the Tamil Nadu border, it was easier to go to the team hotel [in Madurai]. Since I arrived late in Madurai, I could not play this game." His next chance to play would be on August 29, at the same venue, when India Blue take on India Green.

Thampi remains conscious of the trauma in his state caused by the floods. Before heading to the Duleep Trophy, Thampi and his friends had provided relief supplies to those affected in his town. His friends Milan and Basil and several others are still dispatching clothing and food.

"The support from people everywhere has been phenomenal and things are getting better now," Thampi said. " Some areas have been splashed with mud and dirt, so in addition to basic needs, my friends are reaching out and providing cleaning agents like bleaching power. My support is always with them. This flooding has been tough, but Kerala will definitely bounce back."