From Obscurity to Stardom

Last Updated: Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 00:00

Biswajit Jha

There are numerous young cricket talents around the world, especially in India, who yearn to hog limelight for their heroics. But fame is seemingly reserved for a few lucky ones, playing for their respective countries in ODIs or Tests.

With the emergence of Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2008, things have taken a paradigm shift. It has opened a new window of opportunity for some young hitherto unknown players to show their valour in a bigger league.

Shaun Marsh, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan, Manpreet Gony, Ashok Dinda would not have achieved international fame without the lucrative league that, some say, has changed the face of cricket forever.

These unknown first class cricketers are not only rubbing shoulders with the best, but are also among the most sought after now.

Theses players from IPL may or may not be ruling Test or One-Day cricket as of now, but they will be a part of the lucrative T20 league for this year.

Here is a look at players whose lives have seen a great transition after the first season of IPL, held in 2008:

Shaun Marsh: When Shaun Marsh started his campaign in IPL with Kings XI Punjab, very few could have foreseen the genius that was him. But this son of former Australian great Geoff Marsh set the IPL on fire with his tremendous batting skills.

This western Australian cricketer emerged as the highest run-getter in IPL which forced the Australian national selectors to include him in the ODI series in West Indies, where he performed fairly well. In the first season of IPL, the dashing opener scored 616 runs in just 11 matches with a Bradmansque T20 average of 68.44, a superlative ton and five half-centuries.

His IPL exploits had forced the Australian selectors to induct him in the Oz ODI squad. In the ODIs he has played so far, he scored 437 runs at a healthy average of over 47. Though he is yet to get into the Test side, he is really a player to watch out for in the future.

Amit Mishra: Just when India were struggling to find an able replacement for their ageing leggie Anil Kumble, Amit Mishra rose to the occasion to carry the baton forward. In his debut Test at Nagpur, he took the Australians by surprise with his leg-spin and googly.

Playing as a replacement for Kumble, his performance inspired Kumble to make a final call on his illustrious cricket career at his favourite hunting ground- Kotla.

A hard worker, he took over 300 wickets in first class cricket while playing for his home state Haryana and India A team. Though he got his first taste of international cricket as early as 2003, he was jettisoned after playing only three ODIs.

Out of favour for five years, he successfully hogged the limelight again with his brilliant performance in the first edition of IPL while playing for Delhi Daredevils. When first choice spinner and Kiwi captain Daniel Vettori left the Daredevils mid-way through the tournament, Mishra got his chance which he grabbed with both hands. In his six IPL matches he claimed 11 wickets with a stunning 5/17 being his best show. Besides taking 5 wickets in that match against Deccan Chargers, he took a hat-trick and broke the myth that spinners have no role in T20 format.

Yusuf Pathan: Unlike his younger brother Irfan, the rise of Yusuf Pathan has been through the ranks. A hard hitting middle-order batsman and a useful off spinner, Pathan burst on to the scene with some scintillating performances in the IPL ‘08.

Though he got his only chance in the all important final against Pakistan, he did not do well except hitting a six off Asif while opening the innings. Then came IPL in which the world saw the true talent of the elder Pathan under the leadership of Shane Warne. Pathan impressed one and all with his measured bowling and some lusty hitting that helped Rajasthan Royals script several wins. His IPL heroics forced the selectors to include him in the ODI series that followed.

Playing for the subsequent champion Rajasthan Royals, Pathan amassed 435 runs at an impressive average of 31.07 with four fifties. Most importantly, he played some blistering knocks for the Royals in crunch situations which highlighted his grit and rock solid temperament. Stoically built, the senior Pathan’s aggressive batting can be a bit of a surprise when we look at his six hitting records. He tonked 25 sixes in the inaugural season of IPL besides having hit 43 fours.

Ashok Dinda: The wily former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly is known for spotting gifted players and supporting them in their hour of crisis. Bengal pacer Ashok Dinda is one of those on whom the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) captain showed faith.

In the first match of the inaugural season of IPL, Ganguly handed the new ball to Dinda, who until then was not even a regular member of the Bengal Ranji team.

And Dinda did not let his captain down. He bowled exceptionally well in the whole event and picked up three wickets against Deccan Chargers.

The short and lean young man could be an anomaly for a fast bowler, but Dinda can astonish batsmen with his speed and ability to extract bounce. The unknown commodity from Naichanpur village near Kolkata bowled at 140 kmph through the tournament, getting a lot of encomium from the Pundits.

The IPL heroics ultimately earned him India A call-up and a D grade central contract.

MS Gony: An unknown cricketer even in the domestic circuit until the first match of the first edition of the IPL, Manpreet Gony made a mark with both ball and bat in the field.

The Punjab pacer, with 17 wickets in 16 matches, had emerged as one of the best line and length pacer of the tournament.

The six feet four inches broad-shouldered fast bowler, Gony has a silky run-up to the wicket and can extract uncomforting bounce for the batsmen. His good show went on to earn him the lucrative India cap in the Asia Cup that took place after IPL.

Ravindra Jadeja: ‘He is a Rockstar….the future of Indian cricket’. This is how Rajasthan Royals skipper Shane Warne described Ravindra Jadeja during the course of the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) last year.

That he dreamt big is a testimony to his daredevil attitude on the field. Whatever the situation might be, he never shies away from imminent challenges. Looking at his cricketing career so far, one can safely say that Jadeja is one of those tough cricketers, who get going when the going gets tough.

The fact that he is a superb T20 cricketer was evident in the inaugural IPL, where he used the big handle with great skill at some crucial junctures and took a few scintillating catches while playing for the Rajasthan Royals. But he never earned Warne’s faith as a frontline bowler, as his bowling was hardly used during the entire tournament.

With his nimble footwork and ability to hit the ball hard, Jadeja pounces on any loose balls offered to him. His match-winning knock of 25-ball 36-runs against Kings XI Punjab compelled the critics to label him as a Team India material, especially for the shorter formats of the game.

In the 2008-09 Ranji season, he grew from strength to strength as an all-rounder. From a bits and pieces cricketer, he established himself as a true all-rounder with 42 wickets and 739 runs which ultimately earned him an India call.

Dhawal Kulkarni: Another player who shot to fame through the opening edition of IPL is Mumbai pacer Dhawal Kulkarni. The 22-year-old seamer was nowhere in the scene before IPL. But playing with greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Shaun Pollock and Sanath Jayasuriya, his Mumbai Indian team-mates, helped him improve his game by leaps and bounds. In the 10 matches of IPL, he took 11 wickets. More than the wickets, his attitude towards the game earned him some great praise from batting maestro and captain of Mumbai Indians, Sachin Tendulkar.

Not an express bowler himself, his proximity with master of line and length bowling Shaun Pollock helped the pacer shape his attack. "Pollock gave me tips during the IPL which I used in the Ranji Trophy," Kulkarni revealed after getting Indian Test cap for the New Zealand series.

The help also resulted in him emerging as the highest wicket-taker in Ranji Trophy. Things could get better for Kulkarni in the second IPL season as Pollock is expected to be Mumbai Indians` bowling coach.

Wriddhiman Saha: This wicket-keeper batsman from Siliguri of Bengal is seen as a team India material ever since he showed his skills in IPL while playing for Sourav-led Kolkata Knight Riders.

When Knight Riders were reeling at 50/5 while chasing 178 by Kings XI Punjab, Saha scored a fiery half-century in just 28 balls that included four sixes and almost saw the team through.

His IPL showing also earned him a place in India A team and a D-grade central contract in 2008. His neat and acrobatic collections behind the wicket have also put him as a strong contender to replace Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel as the second wicket-keeper after redoubtable Dhoni.



First Published: Thursday, April 16, 2009 - 00:00
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