IPL 2021: How Sri Lanka tour made Arshdeep Singh a better bowler

The 22-year-old left-arm pacer had travelled to Sri Lanka as a net bowler with the India squad in June-July and was close to making his international debut after a COVID outbreak in the team.

Punjab Kings pacer Arshdeep Singh celebrates the wicket of Shubman Gill in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders in Dubai.   -  SPORTZPICS/IPL

The seeds of Punjab Kings pacer Arshdeep Singh's stellar IPL season were sown in Sri Lanka where he straightened his run up to improve his inswinger under the guidance of India A and NCA coach Paras Mhambrey.

The 22-year-old left-arm pacer had travelled to Sri Lanka as a net bowler with the India squad in June-July and was close to making his international debut after a COVID outbreak in the team.

Arshdeep, who is into his third season, made instant impact on IPL resumption by taking a five-wicket haul against Rajasthan Royals. He has taken 16 in the season thus far at an average of 19.18.

Over the past two seasons, he had already made a reputation as an effective death bowler but now he is also making the new ball talk. Courtesy a straighter run-up, he is able to bring ball back into the right-hander and the best example of that was the late inswinger to Shubman Gill in the game against KKR.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the UAE leg, Arshdeep recalled the time spent with the Indian team and how it made him a better bowler. Rahul Dravid was head coach on that tour. "It was a great experience. You learn a lot when you travel with the team even if you are not playing. The environment under Rahul sir was good. The first zoom call we had after landing there, he said 'It is not a squad of 20, it is a squad of 25 (including net bowlers) and everyone will get the same treatment'.

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"That makes you feel part of the group. Also there was no senior or junior, you could learn from anyone, from captain to fellow net bowlers to the support staff," he said.

Talking about work done on his run up with former India pacer Mhambrey, Arshdeep said: "I did some fine tuning work with Paras sir. He worked on my run up, straightened it a bit which allowed me to move the ball back in, the angle was little too much.

"We also worked to how better my finish on the follow through. I was there for a month, it was very good experience training wise." Arshdeep, who was born in Madhya Pradesh but hails from Kharar in Punjab, is aware that left-arm pacers are a sought after lot but meditation has taught him to not lose sleep over selection matters -- be it for his IPL franchise or the Indian team.

"I believe in expecting nothing and be ready for everything at the same time and also learning never stops. Our mental health expert (with Punjab Kings) told us to medidate regularly and with that I have learnt is that don't expect much. "They even say in a love story also one should not expect as it always hurts," said the lanky pacer on a lighter note.

Arshdeep also gives personal coach Jaswant Rai a lot of credit in his rapid rise.

Having started his IPL career with Punjab Kings, the "homely" atmosphere of the team has also helped him perform."It is like family here. Even when there was change in support staff, it always felt like home."

He may not be part of India's T20 World Cup squad but it is evident that he is on selectors' radar and the performance in the ongoing IPL has only helped his case.

Arshdeep signed off after remembering a conversation with Dravid during the Sri Lanka tour. "Rahul sir said 'you are doing well, you are getting results and you are on the radar, just keep performing game after game'. That has stayed with me."

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