A fascinating journey from the nets to the IPL for Nidheesh

Mumbai Indians' recruit speaks of the recently-concluded IPL auction, his favourite players, current form and more.

M. D. Nidheesh, Kerala cricketer.   -  RANJITH PERALAM

When M. D. Nidheesh cleanbowled the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Brendon McCullum and V. V. S. Laxman at the nets of the IPL club Kochi Tuskers Kerala, he felt he probably could achieve something in cricket. The tall pace bowler later came to know that he had even been considered for a contract with the Kochi-based club.

That was seven years ago. Tuskers may have been disbanded after just one season, but Nidheesh’s IPL dream came true on Sunday, when he was picked up by Mumbai Indians for Rs. 20 lakh.

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“I wasn’t expecting it, though I had attended selection trials with the Mumbai Indians,” he told Sporstar on Monday. “I had injured my knee and had to cut short the trails in Mumbai. I was out of the Kerala team for the South Zone Twenty20 tournament as well, so I felt I stood little chances of getting an IPL contract this year.”

The 26-year-old is glad that he has been bought by Mumbai Indians, one of his favourite IPL teams. “I am looking forward to join the team, which contains two of my favourite cricketers, Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya,” he said. “I already know Hardik, having trained with him at a BCCI camp for pace bowlers two years ago.”

Nidheesh, who hails from Kanjiramattom near Kochi, believes the IPL break has come at the right time for him. “I believe I am in the best form of my life,” he said. “I could do well in all the six matches I played in the Ranji Trophy this season.”

He was indeed pretty impressive for Kerala, as he bowled with good speed and extracted bounce even from unresponsive tracks. One recalls watching him troubling the Gujarat batsmen on a wicket at Nadiad that offered little help with his testing spells at the beginning of the season. He also seemed to have added a yard or two to his pace.

“That was my best performance,” Nidheesh said. “I think it also played a part in Mumbai Indians wanting to take a look at me.”

He is not just the only paceman from Kerala who will be part of the 11th edition of the IPL. Basil Thampi (Sunrisers Hyderabad) and K.M. Asif (Chennai Super Kings) will also be there.

“It is great that six players from Kerala have bagged IPL contracts this year,” he said. “And yes, there is lot of competition among pace bowlers in the team. That is good, in fact. But, I feel Kerala needs to have a wicket or two that assists seam bowlers. I think the Wayanad Cricket Stadium would be a good choice to have such a pitch.”

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