Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Hard work pays off for M. D. Nidheesh

The seamer has proved his worth time and again in the few opportunities he got with the Kerala team.

Used to waiting: Nidheesh has played only 18 First-Class matches since making his debut in 2015.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

M. D. Nidheesh looks a man who is entirely at ease with waiting.

Nidheesh has played only 18 First-Class matches for Kerala since making his debut in 2015, but he has proved his worth time and again in the few opportunities he got.

The potent Sandeep-Basil new-ball attack meant Nidheesh only got stray chances and mostly for away matches. Last season, he came up with a maiden first wicket haul (6 for 88) against Himachal Pradesh at Naudan. The emergence of K. M. Asif this season once again consigned Nidheesh to the benches. However, the 28-year-old wasn’t complaining; instead, he was biding his time to become a dependable seamer.

Career-best performance

The eternal wait for an opportunity could undermine most of the cricketers and majority fail when they get it. But not for Nidheesh, who grabbed the rare chance with both hands to come up with a career-best performance (7 for 88) against Punjab at the KCA-St. Xavier’s College ground. The lanky medium pacer only played against Punjab because Sandeep Warrier was away on India A duty and Asif was injured.

Given the Kerala team management’s preference to dish out tailor-made pitches for the spinners, Nidheesh knew his role was limited. However, Nidheesh stole the limelight from the brighter stars with a hostile spell on the second day morning that broke the back of Punjab innings. The sustained hostility and movement Nidheesh could maintain in the longish nine-over spell was what stood out. Bowling long spells is nothing new to Nidheesh who is known for his fitness and acknowledged as the workhorse in the team.

‘Ready and fit’

“I never think about chances but I keep myself ready and fit. Even though I was not playing, I was training hard and bowling a lot in the nets and keeping myself fit. I worked with our bowling coach Sony Cheruvathur who taught me how to use the angles. I am glad I was able to execute it while I was bowling. The plan was to bowl at the right areas and make them play the ball more and it worked perfectly for me,” he said.

Nidheesh also credits former India fast bowler S. Sreesanth for his improvement. “I had bowled along with Sreesanth chettan at his nets last season. He helped me improve my outswinger. He was here bowling at the Kerala nets and he advised me how to mentally approach the match. The pep talk boosted my confidence and I was able to do well,” said Nidheesh.

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