Markande: ‘Mahi bhai’s wicket was a big thing for me’

Mumbai Indians’ rookie leg-spinner Mayank Markande looks back at his glorious debut season in the IPL, stresses how the MI cap was more important than the Purple Cap.

Mayank Markande didn’t expect to be in the playing XI from the opening game.   -  Vivek Bendre

After the IPL gets over, cricketers return home to switch off and start afresh. But for Mayank Markande, there has been no post-tournament relaxation. Phone calls, messages and media requests have kept him busy.

The 20-year-old leggie from Punjab — one of the finds for Mumbai Indians in this season — is only half-awake from his dream. But the “never give up” attitude that he imbibed from the MI camp is going to serve him forever.

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Mumbai bounced back from the dead to finish fifth in the league, and that’s where Markande’s syllabus lies. “It was disappointing for all of us as we had given our 100 per cent. I guess it was not meant to be this season, but MI will never give up. I have learnt that approach from the team. We are a strong team and we will be back,” he told Sportstar on Wednesday.

Markande ended his season with 15 wickets in 14 games.

A mirror-cracking debut against Chennai Super Kings — hoodwinking Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Deepak Chahar to finish 3/23 — earned him fame. In the next game, he bettered his performance claiming a four-fer against Sunrisers Hyderabad. MI lost both the games, but Markande became a superstar.

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Markande, however, didn’t expect to be in the playing XI from the opening game. The sudden inclusion led to jitters but, the support staff helped him overcome fear. “I never thought I would make my IPL debut for Mumbai Indians in the first game. I was informed of my selection a day before. I was nervous. The support staff gave me a lot of encouragement,” he added.

After his debut game, his coach Mahesh Inder Singh had told this publication how the leggie plans against every batsman. Markande admitted that there was a lot of homework involved in getting Dhoni out. “There was a strategy discussed for every player in the team meetings, and I just tried to execute my plans that day. Mahi bhai’s wicket was a big thing for me.”

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Most of his wickets have come from googlies and the youngster believes it’s his natural weapon. “It comes naturally to me. I picked the googly from the wristy back of the hand slower, which I used to bowl as a kid. My coach helped me bring changes in my action,” said the Patiala-bred boy, who initially wanted to become a fast bowler.

He may have slipped in the Purple Cap race, but the MI cap assured him of a start towards a great future. “I never thought of the Purple Cap in the season. It was the Mumbai Indians cap that mattered most from day one. Purple Cap will come and go, but I wanted to retain the Mumbai cap,” he affirmed.

READ: Rookie Mayank makes a mark for Mumbai Indians

At present, Markande’s mission is to not be complacent with the IPL glory and maintain quality. He didn’t earn an India A call-up. Thus, training in the off-season will be his key to success.

“I will continue to work on my bowling and do things that are under my control,” he said.