Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Warrier back in the battlefield

Pushed into the shadows after initial shine a few years ago, Kerala paceman Sandeep Warrier’s five-for against Bengal announced a comeback of sorts.

Kerala pacer Sandeep Warrier, after the victory over Bengal, at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on Thursday.   -  PHOTO/P.K. AJITH KUMAR

 

Dav Whatmore has seen a host of fast bowlers from close quarters. So when the World-Cup winning coach says that Sandeep Warrier’s bowling against Bengal on Thursday at the Eden Gardens here has been one of the best he has ever watched, you have to take note.

“I remember this Test match against South Africa while I was coaching Pakistan, and there was one session in which I saw the best spell of fast bowling I ever saw,” Whatmore told Sportstar, shortly after he watched his boys beat Bengal comprehensively. “Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel were the bowlers. Sandeep’s bowling was similar to that.”

That is high praise indeed.

Match referee Shakti Singh — also a former pace bowler — spoke highly of the Kerala bowler. “I think he is one of the best fast bowlers in the country today,” he said. “He is deceptively quick and could swing the ball consistently. He has the potential to be a Test bowler.”

READ| Kerala crushes Bengal to register second successive win

Sandeep turned heads soon after his debut for Kerala six years ago, and this view has been shared by many; including Tarak Sinha — a successful coach who honed the likes of Shikhar Dhawan and Rishabh Pant among others.

The 2012-13 season saw him in the India Under-23 squad for the ACC tournament at Singapore, where he was the Man-of-the-Match against Pakistan.

He was also picked by Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, though he never played a game — and these days, an impression in the league is a must to get noticed by selectors.

Despite form, Kerala team management dropped him even when he was the strike bowler. The wickets never suited him and the other quality pacers the state possessed.

The sudden rise of Basil Thampi and K.M. Asif, through the IPL ranks, put him in the shadows. But today, he turned the clock backwards. He was once again the dangerous swing bowler who could trouble any batter.

READ| Bengal falls to Thampi bouncers

“I am glad that I could bowl well in a match that we won,” Sandeep said. “Yes, this is my best performance for some time.”

At 27, he couldn’t have timed it better. It remains to be seen if he can carry the legacy of Tinu Yohannan and S. Sreesanth.