‘India winning because of pace bowlers’

“Now we have three pacemen who are all wicket-taking bowlers. They never allow the batsmen to relax, just as the West Indies greats, like Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner and Michael Holding used to,” M. Senthilnathan, MRF Pace Foundation's chief coach said.

Senthilnathan is proud about the huge contribution the MRF Pace academy has made to fast bowling.   -  P.K. Ajith Kumar

M. Senthilnathan did not hide his glee at the sight of the green wicket at the Wayanad Cricekt Stadium, Krishnagiri. It is not everyday that he comes across a seamer-friendly track.

The chief coach at the MRF Pace Foundation, Chennai, was in Wayanad primarily to watch three of his wards – Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi and M.D. Nidheesh – in action during Kerala's Ranji Trophy semifinal against Vidarbha.

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Senthilnathan, a former Tamil Nadu batsman who led India at the inaugural Under-19 World Cup, is justifiably proud about the huge contribution the MRF academy has made to fast bowling, not just in India. “Most of Sri Lanka's pace bowlers, including Chaminda Vaas, Pramodya Wickramasinghe, Ravindra Pushpakumara, Dilhara Fernando and Nuwan Zoysa, are MRF products,” he said. “Lanka's cricket officials used to ask about the trainees and we would often find those bowlers in the team soon.”

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He said Lanka's fast bowlers were generally strong. “I find the Kerala lads a lot like them,” he said. “I am happy to see Thampi making rapid strides in the longer format. I had worked on him, taking him to Australia, and he has had a great season in the Ranji Trophy.”

His new-ball partner Warrier has had an even better season. “He is superb bowler,” said Senthilnathan. “He is one of the unluckiest pace bowlers around. He is so talented, but somehow hasn't got the break he deserves. I was really hoping some IPL side would pick him this season.”

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