Kalyan to Mumbai – meet pace express Deshpande 

Brett Lee and Dale Steyn disciple Tushar Deshpande staged a comeback in the Vijay Hazare Trophy after nursing an injury last season. He is all set to unleash his outswingers in Ranji. 

Hyderabad batsman Tanmay Agarwal is bowled by Tushar Deshpande of Mumbai during the first semifinal of Vijay Hazare Trophy one day cricket match in Bengaluru.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Travelling in fast local trains, from Kalyan to Dadar, perhaps helped Tushar Deshpande understand speed better as a kid. He would also binge on Brett Lee and Dale Steyn videos. “It’s a vibe. I know if I keep watching them, something will get transferred to my body,” explains the Mumbai speedster.

The 23-year-old pace express from Shivaji Park Gymkhana is returning to the Ranji Trophy fold after nursing injuries for a year. He already released a trailer of his capabilities, scalping 15 wickets including a five-for in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and raised the expectations.  This season, Mumbai is pace-heavy and along with Dhawal Kulkarni, Deshpande is the bowler to watch in the premier red-ball tournament. 

The injury halt

“I think I am bowling quicker after recovering from the injuries. I first had an ankle injury, for which I had to get a surgery done. Then, while playing Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 (2017-18) I tore my hamstring. I badly wanted to play the Ranji Trophy,” says Deshpande, who has 21 wickets in eight first-class games. 

The youngster underwent the regular rehab and treatment under the supervision of Ashutosh Nimse – the sports physiotherapist for Mumbai Cricket Association.

Deshpande is aware of the wear and tear in a fast bowler’s life. “There will always be a possibility of getting injured but if I take the precautions, I can minimise the injuries. As a fast bowler or an athlete, you can’t say that you will not be injured,” he adds.

Tushar Deshpande (left) says Dhawal Kulkarni has been of big help in his preparations for the Ranji Trophy.   -  Special Arrangement

  Season talk

Deshpande is keen to try out his outswingers with the red ball in the Ranji Trophy, with a little help from senior pro Kulkarni. “The preparation has been good. But there is a difference between white ball and red ball. I have to have more variety. Outswing, my stock ball, is fairly easier with the red ball and I am going to try that out. “Dhawal is a smart bowler with international experience. He helps me a lot. He reads the batsman quickly, and as a bowler, if you can do that you can plan better,” says Deshpande.

IPL dreams

A stellar domestic season could lead to an IPL call-up and Deshpande believes the T20 Mumbai League prepared him for the glamour. The tournament reinstated his confidence after the injury period.  “It was my first live experience under the lights with white ball. If I end up playing the IPL, it will be played in similar conditions, I won’t be blank now that I have an idea. I know which side of the ball is wet and how to gain help from the conditions,” says Deshpande, who represented ARCS Andheri in the hyperlocal T20 gig. 

Deshpande understands the importance of staying grounded and before signing off, he reasons, “The atmosphere in the dressing room is good as we won a tournament. But it is important to be neutral. We have to start from zero.”