A season of hard work for some youngsters has fructified in a glimmer of hope with the call up to represent India against Sri Lanka in the forthcoming one-day and T20 series.
Among the lot, Siddarth Kaul comes from a background of sport – his father, Tej, a first-class cricketer, was once the trainer of the Indian team and mother, Sandhya, is a gymnastics coach with the Sports Authority of India. His brother, Uday, is a known wicketkeeper for Punjab.
For Kaul, the selection is a reward for self-belief. Just as Kerala speedster Basil Thampi, Tamil Nadu all-rounder Washington Sundar and Baroda batsman Deepak Hooda, who all backed themselves to make it to the national team before the conclusion of the current home season.
Thampi brings unbridled aggression to his work as a fast bowler. According to MRF Pace Foundation chief coach M. Senthilnathan, the progress of Thampi has been most impressive under the guidance of Australian great Glenn McGrath. “Basil was told by McGrath that under no circumstances would he compromise on discipline. The emphasis was on discipline on and off the field. He was told that routines had to be followed and that was the key,” said Senthilnathan.
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The 24-year-old Thampi, who nearly gave up the game, was quick to learn to bowl to situations. He has the speed to rattle the batsmen and the necessary ammunition to finish the job. He has a lethal yorker and in known to make sure that the plans work well. McGrath puts emphasis on plans being in place on the field.
Kaul, in comparison, is a cool customer, who likes to work on the mind of the batsman. Not the tearaway type but the 27-year-old Kaul underlines the benefits of accuracy. One of the few bowlers who does not worry about the state of the pitch, he is prepared to take punishment and come back strongly. “The best thing about Siddharth is that he does not lose heart and is ready to give respect to the batsman for a good shot. His fitness is a great asset because he is a complete athlete,” says Tej, who does not let his son compromise with his work ethic.
Hooda, 22, is a product of talent being put to good use by long practice sessions. Former Test wicketkeeper Kiran More has followed the career of the Baroda batsman from his formative years. “He is obviously talented and we can see that from his heavy scores in domestic cricket. He is a strong lad and is made for the shorter versions of the game,” said More.
What works in Hooda’s favour is his ability to swing the game in a matter of a few balls or overs. He can play shots all around and is known to use the opportunity. Adept at hitting the ball long, Hooda boasts of good defence too and is an outstanding fielder. “Hope he works on his bowling too because it can be an asset,” emphasised More. In short, Hooda is an overall good package.
Washington, 18, is the youngest of the lot and also the brightest. He can excel in all the formats of the game and is a reflection of the sound system that is in place in Chennai, which conducts the best league in the country. Along with Thampi, Hooda and Kaul, he signifies the modern day cricketer best – competitive and motivated. The performances against Sri Lanka should confirm their individual prowess.
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