Atharva Taide knows he will have to wait for his opportunity in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The young batter from Vidarbha is also aware of the fact that because of the intense competition for a slot, it won’t be easy to break into Punjab Kings’ final eleven.
But then, he wants to follow the words of the team’s head coach Trevor Bayliss and be ready for whatever comes his way. “I am the kind who wants to take the responsibility and win the game for the team. I have had a word with Shikhar (Dhawan) and coach Bayliss and they have told me the same thing - whenever I get the opportunity I will try to express myself. It is not about showing what I have, but it’s about doing the job for the team,” Taide tells Sportstar.
A solid batter, the 22-year-old left-handed batter amassed 499 runs in seven Ranji Trophy games last season, at an average of 45.36 - including smashing one hundred and three fifties. In January this year, he slammed his maiden First-Class ton with an unbeaten 112 against Punjab in Mohali. Though the game ended in a draw and Vidarbha’s hopes of reaching the knockouts were dashed, Taide’s innings earned him presence from his teammates and the cricketing community.
And, banking on his abilities, Punjab Kings decided to retain him ahead of the IPL auction, despite letting go of quite a few big names - including Mayank Agarwal. A confident Taide does not want to change his approach in the IPL and intends to keep things simple and uncomplicated.
“The approach remains the same. When you have been successful with a particular approach, why would you suddenly want to change that? It does not make sense. I have an approach of winning games and I want to do that for Punjab Kings as well,” he says.
Hailing from Akola in Maharashtra, Taide has been part of the Vidarbha outfit since 2018 and played a key role in guiding the team to the Irani Cup title in 2019, defeating Rest of India.
In the last edition of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, he scored 234 runs in 10 matches at a strike rate of 130. Apart from his batting, Taide is also a left-arm spinner and so far has claimed 10 wickets in T20s and in a long tournament like the IPL, he has all the potential to be a surprise package for Punjab Kings. While Taide wants to be realistic, he admits that the ‘Impact Player’ rule will open a window of opportunities for a lot of rookie Indian talents.
“Impact players will be very crucial for the young players like us, who are looking to make a mark. The rule also suggests that you can substitute an Indian player and not a foreigner, so that increases the chance of getting an exposure in the team. Also, having a 12th player gives you more opportunity,” Taide says.
Being a seasoned campaigner in the domestic circuit, he understands the psyche of a player when he has to warm the benches for a larger part of the tournament. But he wants to look at the silver lining.
“Our country has got the best domestic club league in the world. As a local player, you need to be a part of it. If you are a foreign player, then you need to be really good to seal a berth. But for local players, it’s relatively easy to break into the team. So, I have never really felt that why I have been warming the bench. I am happy to be part of the IPL and whenever there will be a chance, I will try to prove myself,” he adds.
As a kid, Taide would watch cricket with his father, who’s also a die-hard enthusiast of the game. And, it was because of his father’s encouragement and guidance that he could pursue the sport. Every time he goes through a challenging phase, Taide looks back at the formative years and remembers the efforts of his father - who he considers his ‘idol’ - and how he battled all odds to see his son become a cricketer.
Taide has come a long way, and now, as he patiently waits for his chance to break into the league, the youngster has his fingers crossed!
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