Bandaru Ayyappa - Andhra’s gentleman fast bowler

Anything but hot-headed, he’s the picture of patience and persistence, even smiling at batsmen rattled by his bouncers. That’s not in derision, for his face lights up at the slightest excuse.

Ayyappa Bandaru picked up seven wickets in Andhra Pradesh’s win over Madhya Pradesh.   -  Sandeep Saxena

Bandaru Ayyappa is the antithesis of the regular fast bowler. Anything but hot-headed, he’s the picture of patience and persistence, even smiling at batsmen rattled by his bouncers. That’s not in derision, for his face lights up at the slightest excuse. The steepler is deployed with precision only to unsettle batsman.

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Take for instance the first innings of the Ranji Trophy group C match Andhra won against Madhya Pradesh on Saturday. Undeterred by the two for 65 from nearly 25 overs in the first innings, he bashed on regardless for a bag of five for 34 in the second.

The Dr. P.V.G. Raju-ACA Sports Complex has been a happy hunting ground for the 25-year-old. His career-best haul of seven for 61 against mighty Mumbai came here in the 2015-16 season. Not surprisingly, in his latest man of the match winning feat, the bowling strip seemed to be at his beck and call.

Andhra Ranji team manager M.S. Kumar is effusive in his praise of the paceman. “He’s a gentleman fast bowler in the mould of an Andy Roberts -- a smiling assassin. An excellent team man, who adapts to different situations with ease, Ayyappa works even harder when things don’t go well,” said the ex-Andhra left-hander.

In and out of the team last season, he made a comeback with renewed gusto and confidence this time. From extremely humble beginnings, he has worked his way up through hard work.

“Once the preserve of princes, the game’s a great leveller and now within reach of the common man,” observed Prof. A. Prasanna Kumar, cricket columnist and Davis Cup commentator. “Ayyappa’s ascent holds out hope to less fortunate cricketers, that they can build a ladder to the stars,” added the Fulbright Fellow and former Dean of Andhra University.