When Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan felt his team could do well with a left-arm pacer, he thought of someone who had last played five years ago. Manu Krishnan had been forgotten by most.

The bowler himself had almost given up. The feedback he got from those who mattered hadn’t been very encouraging either.

But fortunately for him, the Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) decided to conduct a Kerala Premier League and an inter-club tournament. Manu’s fine performances suddenly brought him back in contention.

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He was named in the Kerala team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournament in New Delhi. In a memorable spell against Himachal Pradesh, he conceded just four runs in three overs in the PowerPlay. And he took three wickets against a strong Tamil Nadu batting line-up. Manu was back, at 33.

Not surprisingly, he was retained in the Kerala team for the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament, and then for the Ranji Trophy. He gave Kerala the breakthrough with the new ball in either innings as the team scored a big win against Meghalaya.

“It was great playing red-ball cricket once again,” Manu told Sportstar on Tuesday. “It felt wonderful to be back in the Kerala team. After two years of my omission, I was feeling very low and there was no platform for a player like me, who could no longer play in the age-group tournaments.”

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Then the KCA tournaments happened. “But for those tournaments, I may never have been able to make a comeback,” he said. “I had been doing well in the local tournaments for my club AG’s Office around Kerala, as I was the best bowler and all-rounder in some of those events, but all that didn’t count apparently.”

He, however, kept himself fit. “He deserves credit for the way he persevered and kept his passion for the game intact,” said Yohannan.

“Mind you, he also had to do his job at the AG’s Office in the period.”

The coach is delighted that Manu delivered against Meghalaya. “With so many right-arm seamers, the team needed a left-arm pacer who could bring the ball into the right-hander, and I knew he could do that job,” Yohannan said.

Manu said it was nice being part of a four-pronged pace attack. “And all of us got wickets, too.”

But it was the youngest of the group, Edhen Apple Tom, who took the most. “He is a great prospect for the future,” said Manu. “Since he is only 17, he could get even better in a few years.”