Nidheesh’s comeback a boost for Kerala

The 30-year-old seamer took 11 wickets to emerge as one of the leading bowlers of the tournament at the league stage.

Nidheesh’s focus at the moment, though, is on Kerala’s quarterfinal match, to be played on December 22.   -  RANJITH PERALAM

When M.D. Nidheesh found that his name was missing from the Kerala squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament, he was understandably disappointed.

But the 30-year-old seamer took that in his stride and worked hard, all alone, on his skills and fitness: the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament was not far away.

He was back in the Kerala team. And he made the ball talk on the batting-friendly tracks at Rajkot.

Good show

He took 11 wickets to emerge as one of the leading bowlers of the tournament at the league stage. He is looking forward to increasing that tally, as Kerala has qualified for the quarterfinals, to be held at Jaipur.

His best efforts came in two crucial wins for Kerala, against Maharashtra and Uttarakhand in the last match. He is particularly pleased with his five-wicket haul against Maharashtra.

“Maharashtra had a strong batting line-up and it was a game we had to win, so it felt nice to have contributed to the team’s cause” Nidheesh told The Hindu on Saturday.

“But we wouldn’t have won that match if Vishnu Vinod and Sijomon Joseph hadn’t come up with that brilliant partnership from a hopeless situation. It was one of the greatest fightbacks by a batting side I have ever seen.”

Challenge

He said bowling on the Rajkot wickets was a challenge. “All the teams had some fine batsmen,” he said. “But as a bowler I didn’t put pressure on myself and just concentrated on serving my team in the best way possible.”

Coach Tinu Yohannan said Nidheesh served Kerala’s cause rather well at Rajkot. “It was a great comeback by him,” he said. “Kerala needed an experienced bowler like him to play a leading role. He is doing that now.”

After Sandeep Warrier, who spearheaded the Kerala attack for the best part of a decade in admirable fashion, moved to Tamil Nadu, the team has suffered in the pace department. So Nidheesh’s form augurs well for Kerala, with the Ranji Trophy coming up.

Nidheesh’s focus at the moment, though, is on Kerala’s quarterfinal match, to be played on December 22. “We are all very confident after our performance at Rajkot,” he said.

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