Minutes before Akhil Herwadkar was adjudged the Man of the Match for setting the game up for Mumbai against Railways, Tushar Deshpande had led the Mumbai side off the pitch after becoming the second bowler for his team to register a maiden five-for in as many days. However, the celebratory smile had evaporated in no time. Instead, Deshpande was getting an earful from Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit, in the presence of pace spearhead Shardul Thakur.
As Deshpande has grown into a reliable strike bowler in his four outings at first-class level, the number of no balls have consistently outdone that in the wickets column. A staggering 35 no balls in four matches is way too much for a fast bowler at any level, let alone first-class cricket where there is not much room for a mistake. When you consider that of those 35 times he has overstepped, at least half a dozen times has he missed out on a wicket, then you realise that Pandit’s frustration was understandable.
Even the bowler himself was frustrated with the problem that has cropped in to his technique at the start of the season. “I squarely take the blame for not having been able to get it rectified,” he said. “Chandu sir (Pandit) and Omkar sir (Salvi, the bowling coach) have been relentlessly working with me to get it right, but on the match days, I tend to miscalculate while starting the run-up. Hopefully, I can get it right soon.”
Apart from this, Mumbai surely seems to have found a genuine pace bowler who could make its pace unit as formidable as any other domestic outfit (read Karnataka). With Shardul Thakur being called as back-up for the Indore Test, Deshpande earned his fist-class debut and impressed everyone. And when Thakur returned to the squad for the second league game, Dhawal Kulkarni had to join India’s ODI squad to help Deshpande retain his place in the XI.
In the limited opportunities he has got, Deshpande has consistently troubled all the batsmen with his pace and ability to pitch the ball in the perfect channel. It has taken a lot of efforts for Deshpande to wear the Mumbai cap after commuting 90 minutes one way every day from Kalyan, a far-off central suburb, to the adored Shivaji Park Gymkhana in Dadar for the last decade. Hopefully, the Kalyan Express will not let no ball problem derail a bright career ahead.
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