Thampi over the moon after claiming Gayle’s wicket

The biggest gain for the Gujarat Lions, in what has been a lacklustre start to the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League for the team, is the emergence of Basil Thampi as a reliable pace bowler.

Basil Thampi celebrates after picking up his first IPL wicket, that of Chris Gayle.   -  Sportzpics

The biggest gain for the Gujarat Lions, in what has been a lacklustre start to the 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for the team, is the emergence of Basil Thampi as a reliable pace bowler.

Thampi has been one of the finds of the Indian domestic season and has translated his success of Ranji Trophy into the big stage of the IPL. He emerged as the most economical bowler for Gujarat Lions against a Royal Challengers Bangalore blitzkrieg on Tuesday night was enough for the young pacer from Kerala to burst into a wide smile despite the team ending up on the wrong side. What made it all the more special was the fact that he picked his first IPL wicket, that too of Chris Gayle, when the batsman was despatching other bowlers into the stands at will.

“It was the best feeling in my life. It was my first wicket in the IPL. I got the big man's wicket and I am very happy to get him out,” Thampi said.

It may have taken him four games to earn his first scalp but the lanky pacer has impressed one and all with his pace and his ability to bowl yorkers at will. It was displayed in plenty during his spell against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Eight balls of his last two overs, when Kieron Pollard had gone berserk, pitched in the block hole.

The youngster attributed his accuracy to playing tennis ball cricket during his early days in Kerala.

“I got my yorkers from tennis ball cricket. I played so much of it back home in Kerala,” he said. “When I came for the camp, I kept on practising it in the nets with my coaches and they gave me a good motivation to keep doing that.”

Besides yorkers, Tuesday also saw Thampi displaying his ability to bowl a variety of slower balls. Early on in the match, he kept Gayle quiet with an off-cutter and a back-of-the-hand slower ball. The latter is a difficult skill to acquire for a pace bowler. According to Thampi, he has been trying it out only over the last couple of weeks, ever since joining the Lions camp.

“The back of the arm, I developed it at the Gujarat Lions camp. My coaches (head coach Brad Hodge and bowling coach Heath Streak) showed me some different types of slower ones and I am just doing that. With God's grace it came nicely (today),” he said.