The making of Mayank Markande

After the first week of IPL 2018, here’s a look at the 20-year-old leggie from Punjab who has been Mumbai Indians’ wonder boy with seven scalps in first three games.

Mayank Markande has befuddled some of the accomplished players of spin in his first three IPL outings.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

There have been debates aplenty regarding the temperament of players in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Many refuse to look into the grit of a cricketer through the IPL binocular. But the tournament constructed a solid raft for uncapped Indian players.

Yuzvendra Chahal, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Pandya and the likes have managed to board the ship.

Dream debut

Within a week of the ongoing season of the cash-rich league, one player who is nearing the dock is Mayank Markande — the 20-year-old leg-spinner from Punjab who made his debut for Mumbai Indians. He picked up seven wickets in his first two games — 3/23 and 4/23 — at a mind-boggling economy of 5.75.

Read: Rookie Mayank makes a mark for Mumbai Indians

Though the youngster couldn’t do an encore in the third game against Delhi Daredevils, his exploits against Chennai Super Kings and Sunrisers Hyderabad were strong enough to add to the job of the video analysts.

Among his seven scalps, there were big guns like Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Shikhar Dhawan, Shakib Al Hasan and Manish Pandey.

Former India and Punjab all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi is one of the senior players who witnessed the making of Markande at his father’s academy in Patiala. The right-arm leggie joined Mahesh Inder Singh at the age of seven. “Mayank was a medium pacer then. Since I used to train at the academy, he used to bowl to me. He was very good with the slower delivery back of the hand. He deceived and dismissed me a number of times with the slower ones. I could never pick that,” Sodhi told Sportstar.

Medium pace to spin

The wrist control and back of the hand technique was the route to Markande’s spin journey.

“With time, the slower one had become dangerous. It was during that time when my father advised him to take to leg spin for his control and flexible wrists,” he added.

Even after mastering spin, Markande kept troubling Sodhi at nets. “Towards the end of my career, I played his leg-spin for two years. I was somebody who liked going after bowlers, but I had a tough time taking him on,” Sodhi remembered, adding, “The best part about Mayank is his control and he bowls wicket-to-wicket. Even if it is a googly, it is wicket-to-wicket and it doesn’t come from outside the off stump. It increases the chances of a leg-before dismissal.”

Sodhi believes Markande will stand a chance to represent India if he maintains consistency. “I think his IPL stint is an advantage. Gone are the days when you would be selected for India after taking 30 odd wickets and scoring 1,000 runs in the Ranji Trophy. If you are consistent in the IPL, your name starts doing the rounds for the Indian team. Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja looked certain for a long run in the limited-overs team but the way they were shown the door, it shows that skipper Virat Kohli has an open mind. Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav were given opportunities. Many players, including Kohli, will watch him in the IPL, so things look positive,” said Sodhi, who had a long-standing argument with Markande over a net session dismissal from his playing days.

'Markande is wonderful to watch'

“Once Mayank bowled a googly to me and there was one boy who was the umpire. It hit me on the pads and he appealed to the umpire who raised his finger. I told Mayank it was missing the stump but he said, ‘Nahin paji, yeh toh stump pe hi jaa rahi thi (no brother, it was going to hit the stumps). Umpire aap se darr ke not out na bol de (Don’t scare the umpire so that he says it’s not out). For a long time, I used to tell him that I was not out,” Sodhi chuckled, adding, “But seeing him pick wickets in the IPL, I told him a few days ago that I could have been out that day.”

A well-planned bowler

He is very confident. He spoke to me over the phone after the first game and said he planned and got Dhoni out. It was a googly and Dhoni couldn’t pick it. The flipper to Ambati Rayudu was also a planned move. He plans against every batsman. He needs to practise and understand from where he should angle the ball in, depending on the leg and off-side field. Muttiah Muralitharan was a genius. He used to spin with an angle. If Mayank learns all these, he will go a long way.” — Mahesh Inder Singh, coach of Markande

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