There is something about Manisankar Murasingh’s quiet temperament on the cricket field that slowly grows on you.
As the season-opening Duleep Trophy 2023-24 quarterfinal between Central Zone and East Zone drew stumps on Day 1 at the Alur (I) Cricket Ground, Murasingh claimed his 13th First-Class five-wicket haul (five for 42) with laudable consistency and minimal celebratory antics.
With national selectors, Shiv Sundar Das and Sridharan Sharath in attendance, the 30-year-old Tripura seamer displayed all of his finesse and reserved character with his first scalp of the day.
The right-arm medium pacer can be deceiving with his crisp and sturdy run-up that bursts into tight lines to trouble the batter, relying on control over movement in the air. It makes up for the lack of surprise in his mid-130 kph deliveries.
Murasingh wound a ball into good length and moved it across the pitch ever so slightly to breach Central opener Vivek Singh’s compact block to hit the top of the off-stump.
Murasingh would gently stroll forward with a subdued smile before immediately walking back to the popping crease to have a chat with the umpire regarding his landing. He would repeat the drill four times throughout the afternoon after every dismissal.
Raised in the outskirts of south Tripura before picking up the game in Agartala in the early 2000s, Murasingh has come a long way.
Having made his debut in 2009, Murasingh has represented Tripura - a Ranji Trophy team that has won only nine of its 193 games - with unwavering commitment. He has the numbers to show.
With 239 wickets and 3276 lower-order runs to his name, Murasingh leads the charts on both fronts for his state team in First-class cricket. And yet, it took him 13 seasons to graduate to the zonal level, making his Duleep Trophy debut for East Zone in the 2022-23 season.
While he could only pick up a wicket in that match, Murasingh followed it up with 21 wickets in the Ranji Trophy season, with five-wicket hauls against Punjab and Gujarat (twice).
County Stint in Durham
While records show a nearly six-month break between his last First-class appearance and now, Murasingh was plying his wares in England for Philadelphia CC in the Northeast Premier League in Durham. Consequently, he was out representing Philadelphia last Saturday too.
“I was in England, playing in the Minor County league. The red-ball cricket season is going on there. Matches take place in the weekends. Sometimes T20 matches are played on Fridays and midweek. I am coming after playing a match on June 24. Took a flight from Newcastle to London on the 25th. From there to Mumbai and here I am in Bangalore,” he chuckles.
No IPL Contract
While players from the Northeast are forced into a longer off-season owing to torrential rains, the Minor County stint has been a late addition to Murasingh’s profile.
“I went for the first time in 2021. Offers have come before as well but I wanted to stay back and try for the IPL. When there was no hope, I didn’t want to sit here anymore. It was better to go to England, make some money and put in a grind.”
Murasingh downplays the disappointment of not making the IPL. “I had trialled with Mumbai Indians in 2019. This time I did it with Gujarat Titans. I have never understood the process. They make you play match simulations. I used to do well in those simulations but I still don’t understand what traits they pick up from that,” he says.
However, he is happy to play a larger role back home for the next generation. “It’s there in the back of the mind always. I try to share my experience with the young kids in Tripura.
“If I perform well, it’s good for the team and it also serves as an inspiration for them to get in and do well. The facilities have improved a lot and I have a sense of pride now looking at the development. We have also started to get good coaches since 2012.”
While he gets on a spree of games during the season, Murasingh is pretty laid back when away from the circuit.
“After the Duleep Trophy, I’ll go back to England. Hopefully, I will get to play in the Deodhar Trophy as well before going back in August to play six more games.
“I don’t do a lot of training in my off-season. To be honest, I have only started doing gym work over the last five years. I only do practice and gym two months before the start of the season. Apart from that, I take a total break for two-three months. because there are a lot of games being played and the club cricket scene in Tripura is quite good.
“I don’t even go to the ground during the break. I just at home and watch TV or play football sometimes as it rains a lot up there,” Murasingh says with a genuine smile, eventually breaking free of his silent demeanour.
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