Jiyas' spin from anonymity

The rookie chinaman bowler was flown in from Ernakulam on Friday morning by Australia’s spin bowling consultant Sridharan Sriram, in a bid to give the visiting side some spin practice.

Jiyas, who is yet to feature in Kerala's Ranji Trophy squad, hopes to play for his state soon.   -  Shayan Acharya

The youngster looked nervous as he bowled to Steven Smith at the nets. The first few deliveries were erratic and the Australia skipper hit them hard. A little later, a flighted delivery from the 25-year-old boy from Kozhikode left the No. 1 Test batsman stunned.

The jittery expression soon made way for a smile - K.K. Jiyas still couldn’t believe he had put Smith in a spin.

The rookie chinaman bowler was flown in from Ernakulam on Friday morning by Australia’s spin bowling consultant Sridharan Sriram, in a bid to give the visiting team some practice against spin. “Sriram Sir called me a couple of days back and asked me to join the camp. Initially I thought he was joking. But then he wasn’t,” a rather elated Jiyas told Sportstar.

Sriram, who was a spin bowling coach with the Indian Premier League (IPL) outfit Delhi Daredevils, first met Jiyas in 2015 in Kerala, during a camp for spinners. Impressed by his talent, Sriram helped the rookie spinner bag an IPL contract with Delhi Dardevils the same year.

For Jiyas, that was a big deal. Coming from a family of drivers (all his relatives are drivers in the Middle East), even he considered following suit, when the IPL contract came his way. “It was a huge thing for me. I did not even expect to be picked by an IPL side. It all happened because of Sriram Sir’s help,” he said.

Even Sriram was happy with the way his old ward performed in the nets. “I have known him for a while now, and he has helped the side prepare well for the game in these conditions. He has been good,” Sriram told Sportstar.

Jiyas’ idea has been simple - keep it slow and steady. “I am trying to flight (the ball) a bit. That’s how I could beat the batsmen. Marcus (Stoinis) and Travis Head were beaten that way. I’m doing what I have been told to do,” Jiyas, who plays for a local side, Mutthu GCC, in Ernakulam, said.

Even Smith was happy with the way the Indian rookie bowled. “He is a guy Sri (Sriram) has organised to come down and bowl. They have got Kuldeep Yadav in their squad and he is likely to play. There is a chance to train against someone like that. There aren’t too many in the world,” Smith said, making it clear that the idea behind playing against Jiyas was to prepare the Aussie batsmen to face Kuldeep Yadav should he play on Sunday.

While both of them are mystery spinners, Jiyas doesn’t wear full-sleeves like Yadav, which exposes his action. “I feel a bit of irritation  wearing full-sleeve jerseys. I prefer this way,” Jiyas, who has played for Kerala at the U-19, U-22 and U-22 levels, said. Despite being a talked-about spinner in the local circuit, Jiyas is yet to play for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy. “It would be great if I can play for Kerala. I don’t know why they don’t call me,” he rued.

But then, bowling to the Aussies may well open the Ranji Trophy doors for the young gun.