Arjun Makesh turns unlikely hero for Kuwait

Two match-winning performances in the World T20 qualifiers seem to have repaid the faith of the Kuwait national selectors.

A BTech graduate, Arjun’s cricket journey began with Tripunithura Cricket Club.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

He was a late addition to the Kuwait cricket team for the World T20 qualifiers (Western Asia Region) but Arjun Makesh turned out to be an unlikely hero as Kuwait qualified for its maiden regional finals.

Arjun, a former Kerala Under-19 cricketer, attended the probables camp under coach Herschelle Gibbs but wasn’t selected when the final squad was announced.

However, he showed his mettle in the Challenge Cup where he helped his club Artech CC - the Kuwait T20 league champion - beat Kuwait 2-0. He was adjudged the best batsman and the man-of-the-tournament.

Arjun's performance didn’t go unnoticed as the 27-year-old was included in the Kuwait squad. And two match-winning performances in the World T20 qualifiers seem to have repaid the faith of the national selectors.

Against Saudi Arabia in the playoffs, with Kuwait defending a small target (105 off 18 overs), Arjun - introduced into the attack in the 10th over - bowled his legspin to stifle the opposition batsmen, returning figures of two for 11 from three overs as Kuwait beat Saudi Arabia by five runs to qualify.

"I am used to these kinds of situations while playing for my club Artech CC as I usually bowl at the death. I have quite a reputation of being someone tough to score off in the death overs in the league.  I put all the fielders outside the circle and try to bowl dot balls rather than trying to take wickets. Against Saudi Arabia, I tried the same tactics and it worked,’’ said Arjun who hails from Tripunithura in Kochi.

Fittingly, Arjun won the man-of-the-match, his second award in the tournament.  Arjun had come up with a match-winning show (four for 21) against Bahrain in the league match which Kuwait won by 23 runs.

A BTech graduate, Arjun’s cricket journey began with Tripunithura Cricket Club. He played for Kerala under-19 in the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2009 along with Sanju Samson and Sandeep Warrier.

He then took a break to complete his engineering before joining KRL. While playing for Kochi Refinery Limited (KRL), Arjun got a chance to play club cricket in Kuwait.

He was selected to play for Safety Plus CC - a club owned by Rishi D. Jayan - director of cricket operations with the Kuwait Cricket Board.

Arjun spent six months with Safety Plus before switching allegiance to Artech CC and has been its batting mainstay in the A division league since.

Arjun is now looking forward to being a part of the regional finals where Kuwait will be squaring off against the likes of Nepal, UAE and Qatar. "It will be tough for us but we still have a chance as two teams can qualify. We will play at our best and try to qualify," he said.