Daddy cool let son Ishwar live his cricketing dream

On his coach Aril Anthony's request, Ishwar's father allowed him to try cricket for a year.

A turning point in the life of pacer Ishwar Pandey came in 2007-08 when his coach requested his father to give the youngster a year to prove his credentials at cricket.

Pandey’s father, a retired subedar-major, reluctantly agreed as he was keen that his son excelled in academics.

Madhya Pradesh’s Pandey, who has been picked in the Indian Test and ODI squads for the upcoming New Zealand tour, was playing at the under-19 level at the time, and had failed to do anything noteworthy in that crucial period. But by then his father somehow had a change of heart and allowed his elder son to carry on with cricket.

Ishwar PandeyAnd there was no looking back for the Rewa-based Pandey as he went from strength to strength, and finally got picked in the national team a few days ago.

India pick Ishwar, Aaron, Binny for New Zealand tour

“Initially, I just loved playing cricket; I had no plan to play as a professional cricketer. It was in 2007-08, when I was playing under- 19 cricket that Aril Anthony sir met my father and convinced him to give me a year to play cricket to prove my credentials,” Pandey told MAIL TODAY. “Sir told my father, who wanted me to study, that if I didn’t succeed at cricket he could ask me to do what he wanted,” recalled the 24-year-old bowler.

That Anthony took the pain to seek special permission from Pandey’s father indicates the confidence that he would have had in the teenager.

“That only he would know; on my part, I worked hard. But I was dropped from the Madhya Pradesh under-19 team for the 2008-09 season,” said Pandey.

Pandey’s father could have told him to switch to academics as per the agreement.

But he had a change of heart. “Since I had played that year, father told me to carry on with cricket. He said: ‘it’s your life, so choose what you think is best for you’. A year after returning to the under-22 CK Nayudu Trophy team, in 2009-10, I was picked for the Ranji Trophy team [in 2010-11],” he recalled.

Pandey’s Ranji debut, against Goa in Indore in 2010, wasn’t great. He got to play only three games that season and took nine wickets. The next season, Pandey showed a marked improvement as he captured 25 wickets in six first-class matches in 2011-12. But his breakthrough season was the next one when he shot into national limelight. The pacer bagged 52 wickets in 10 first-class matches.

That performance earned him a call to the India ‘A’ team that toured South Africa last year. At home, he was picked for the Rest of India team for the Irani Trophy match.

In the ongoing 2013-14 domestic season, Madhya Pradesh failed to win a single Ranji Trophy game, but Pandey has so far captured 34 wickets in 10 first-class matches.

And the success story continues.

Pandey’s bowling heroes are Glenn McGrath and Kapil Dev, probably because both had a lethal out-swinger.

Besides McGrath, Pandey also got to work under the great Dennis Lillee at the MRF Foundation in Chennai. Former Madhya Pradesh player Amay Khurasiya helped him get admission to the renowned pace school the year he was dropped from the Madhya Pradesh under-19 team.

McGrath has had a big influence on him, informs Pandey. “He has been my idol and I also got the chance to train under him at the MRF. I have found McGrath’s tips very helpful. Earlier, Lillee had told me to concentrate on technique. I am an outswing bowler and he made some corrections in my action and that helped me a lot,” he outlined. “Outswing bowling came naturally to me. But I worked on it to make it better on the advice of my coach [Anthony], McGrath and Lillee sir.”

Pandey is now waiting to meet Kapil and seek some tips.

“He watched the Irani Trophy game that I played, but I couldn’t meet him. When I do see him, I’d like to ask him about swing and variations in bowling. He has been such a fine bowler, so he would definitely tell me something beneficial.”

Apart from attaining perfection in bowling outswingers, Pandey is trying to get used to non-vegetarian food to build core strength.

“I like vegetarian food, and my favourite is dal roti. Now, I’ve gradually started trying non-vegetarian food too but, as of now, I can’t eat much,” he said.

Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.

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