While much of the Indian domestic season is remembered for the big hundreds scored by batsmen on rather lifeless surfaces, it would be a good idea to look out for men who swam against the tide and yet went unnoticed.
Though there are a few bowlers who did better than the rest, my pick of the season are two faster men, who bowled relentlessly at a reasonable pace. They made the batsmen hop and jump if there was bounce on offer. They even searched for reverse swing when the track was too dry to offer lateral movement. On those rare occasions when the track assisted seam bowling, they pitched the ball fuller and troubled the best of the lot.
Ashok Dinda and Parvinder Awana are the ones who impressed the most amongst the new crop of medium/fast bowlers.
Dinda, the man from Kolkata, burst onto the scene only because Ponting insisted on having him on-board for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Initially, a net bowler, he bowled a lot better and, more importantly, a lot quicker than a lot of bowlers in the squad. His inclusion was completely out of turn, for he was not even in Bengal’s scheme of things for the Ranji trophy. Dinda made heads turn with his performances in IPL-I, but soon faded away. He went on to play a few ODIs for India too but his career failed to take off the way it ought to have. Many believed that he got carried away with the IPL success and paid little heed to the all important first-class performances.
This season Dinda turned it around. Perhaps, it was the inclusion of Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Vinay Kumar, Abhinayu Mithun and S Aravind that spurred him on to raise the bar. He’d played for India much before these guys but had failed to make himself count. Today, Dinda seems to have realized the importance of taking a bagful of wickets in the Ranji trophy — he now looks a different bowler. He was at his very best in the recently concluded Duleep trophy and was the sole reason for East Zone creating history by winning the trophy for the first time. He seems ready to be inducted back into the Indian team — this stay at the top would hopefully be a lot longer than his earlier stint.
The other player selectors should be keeping an eye on, is Parvinder Awana from Delhi. He is the ideal hit-the-deck-hard bowler, who’d be more successful in the higher grade of cricket. Most successful bowlers in the domestic circuit are swing/release bowlers as the SG Test ball responds the best when it’s released. But it’s exactly the opposite that’s needed to succeed at the highest level. One expects the bowler to get the ball to do something off the surface, for swing sans the pace is much easier to negotiate — Awana qualifies perfectly for this bracket. He has a smooth run-up, an easy high-arm action and the strength to bowl longer spells at consistent pace. Since he isn’t a part of the IPL yet, chances are that his contributions might be overlooked. But the ‘wise men’ would do well to keep him in the loop for the future.
Bowlers like Dinda and Awana, who can bowl reasonably quick are rare commodities. They ought to be protected and nurtured.