From ‘desi gurus’ to hardcore ‘professionals’, young Indian pacers learning from the best coaches, mentors in IPL 2022

Like every season of the IPL since its inception, the ongoing 15th edition of the cash-rich league has also thrown up names of some young exciting fast bowlers, who have shown their spark but it hasn’t happened overnight and rather required years of hard work, constant growth and most importantly the learning and support from their first coaches.

Most of these young fast bowlers have learned the basics of the game from their first coaches and now have the coaching from the best in the business in the world’s most competitive cricket league.

Among these uncapped players, few fetched good amount of money in the mega auction, which may surprise people outside, but those who are involved with the franchises know that these cricketers have talent and they have qualified experts in the form of coaches, mentors in their support staff, who can turn these youngsters into ‘match winners’. And, the young players are also keen to learn from the ‘greats’ of the game and hone their skill, which will eventually make them ‘capable’ of playing for India.

The likes of Kuldeep Sen, Vaibhav Arora, Umran Malik, Yash Dayal and others have troubled the batters either with their swing or raw pace and even with their variations and different bowling actions in the ongoing IPL season so far.

These youngsters are definitely not the “finished article” as of now, but they certainly have the talent and able support, which could take them miles in future.

IANS takes a look at the ex-coaches and current ‘gurus’ in IPL, which played or will play a big role in these young cricketers’ growth.Kuldeep Sen:

Madhya Pradesh’s right-arm pacer Kuldeep Sen made his IPL debut for Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday and impressed everyone with his pace.

The fast bowler from Rewa, around 450kms from the state capital Bhopal near the Uttar Pradesh border, cleaned up Deepak Hooda for 25 in his second over and later successfully defended 15 off the last over to help his team register a win in a close contest.

The 25-year-old Sen announced his arrival as a fast bowler with a scorching delivery clocked at 146.3 kmph to Lucknow opener Quinton de Kock during the game between Rajasthan and Lucknow.

The pacer’s father Ram Pal Sen runs a small barber shop at Sirmour Chouraha, in Rewa, MP and the meagre family income meant Kuldeep, one of five children, could not afford a basic cricket kit. But his coach Aril Anthony came as a saviour in his life. From Kuldeep’s training gear, spikes to diet, Anthony took care of everything.

Till Sunday, Ishwar Pandey, who in 2013 had received an India call-up for the New Zealand series, and India women cricketer Nuzhat Parween, were his most famed wards. All that changed, at least to an extent, when his other protege, Kuldeep Sen successfully defended 15 runs in the last over for Rajasthan Royals against Lucknow Super Giants.

Kuldeep was a raw talent when Aril took him under his wings. The bowler always wanted to play at higher levels but needed a lot of polishing even to get selected for the U-16 state team. “He was quick but used to chuck, which is why I didn’t allow him to appear in U-16 district trials. We worked on it for years and then he made it to the U-19 district team,” Aril told The New Indian Express.

The coach also revealed the various qualities of Kuldeep’s bowling.

“He bowls fuller and his tall frame means the high-arm release helps in bowling outswing deliveries with a good pace. He can also bowl inswinging deliveries and wide yorkers, which was on display against LSG’s Marcus Stoinis. He is only going to improve from here on,” said Aril.

And since Kuldeep Sen is playing for Rajasthan this season, he will learn a lot of tricks from the legendary Lasith Malinga, who is the bowling coach of the franchise. Apart from Malinga, Royals also have Kumar Sangakkara as their head coach and director of cricket and Steffan Jones as high-performance fast-bowling coach.

Vaibhav Arora

The 24-year-old Arora is another budding talent who has impressed everyone with his performance. Making his IPL debut with Punjab Kings, the pacer had rattled the Chennai Super Kings batting line-up and also had a decent outing in the next few matches. The right-arm pacer plays for Himachal Pradesh in Indian domestic cricket. Though he was picked by KKR for Rs 20 lakh in the IPL 2021 auction, he made his debut for PBKS, who bought him for Rs 2 crore.

At one stage, Arora thought of quitting cricket owing to his financial turmoil and constant rejections and looking for a job to help his family. But Ravi Verma, Vaibhav’s coach-cum-local guardian supported him and asked the cricketer to not give up.

“I knew that his family was going through financial problems. So I called his father and asked him to give two more years to Vaibhav, I will take care of all the finances; he doesn’t have to pay a single penny,” recalled coach Verma after Vaibhav’s heroics on his IPL debut.

The pacer continued his hard work and ultimately things took a U-turn when he was noticed on Ranji debut when he finished with figures of 9/105 against Saurashtra. His debut for Himachal at Dharamsala was memorable because during the match, he went past rock-solid Cheteshwar Pujara’s defence and the middle stump went for a cartwheel.

Since Vaibhav is representing Punjab Kings in the ongoing IPL 2022 season, he has got the opportunity to learn from legends like Anil Kumble (head coach and Director of Cricket Operations) and Jonty Rhodes (fielding coach). Apart from them, Australian Damien Wright is also with the franchise.

Umran Malik

Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer Umran’s cricketing journey has been precisely like his bowling — fast. He didn’t have any idea of professional cricket till as late as 2017. One day, along with his best friend Abdul Samad (now also part of SRH), he went to see Randhir Manhas at a Cricket Stadium in Jammu. Abdul requested his coach to have a look at his friend, who had already made a name for himself in the Jammu tennis-ball circuit.

Manhas asked him to bowl and was taken back by his pace and after getting impressed, the coach asked the youngsters to come to the practice everyday.

“He used to come for a week, then, he will skip the training for the next three-four days. You can’t blame him, as even he didn’t know about his potential. One day I told him ‘Umran, you can play for India.’ For 10-15 seconds, he looked at me and started laughing. He replied, ‘Sir, are you serious.’ I gave him a firm look and didn’t say a word. He never missed a training session from then onwards,” Manhas, who works as a coach at Maulana Azad Cricket Stadium in Jammu, told Indian Express.

And now, who could have been better than South Africa pace legend Dale Steyn, to guide the young cricketer and hone his skill. Steyn, who is the bowling coach of SRH said that he is enjoying sitting back and watching Umran Malik rattle opposition batters with his pace in IPL 2022.

“Umran is fantastic. It (his performances) is no reflection of me at all. It’s all him at the moment. He has got amazing skills, he is showing everybody, bowling 150 kph. I am kind of living through him, wishing I could do it. But it’s all him at the moment. He is certainly somebody whom we should keep an eye on for the future,” he said.

Adding that he is relishing the bowling coach role at SunRisers Hyderabad, Steyn said he wants to do to Umran Malik what Alan Donald did to him during the early stages of his decorated career — being a mentor.

“I felt the same when I used to play. I had somebody like Alan Donald in the dressing room. I idolised Alan. When he congratulated me when I did something, that was fantastic. I kind of want to do the same thing for Umran. It’s all him. I am going to just be there to put an arm around him when things are not going well and I am just going to be there to shake his hands when it goes really well,” the former South African pacer said.

Yash Dayal

Left-arm pacer Yash Dayal, who is representing Gujarat Titans, had a bittersweet outing in his debut IPL match against Rajasthan Royals on Thursday but he showed glimpses of his wicket-taking ability to the cricketing world.

Bowling his first over in the IPL, Dayal conceded 15 runs but he managed to send Devdutt Padikkal back for a duck. In his next over, Jos Buttler smashed the pacer for three boundaries and a six. However, the 24-year-old made a good comeback and took the wickets of Rassie van der Dussen and Yuzvendra Chahal in his third and fourth over respectively. During his full quota of overs, Yash showed his various skills like — swing, slower one, change of angles, etc and finished with good bowling figures of 4-0-40-3.

Born in Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh, Yash caught the attention when he was included in the Indian team’s bio-bubble for their home ODI series against West Indies earlier this year. The pacer, who plays his domestic cricket for Uttar Pradesh, was picked by Gujarat for a whopping Rs 3.2 crore in the IPL 2022 mega auction.

The left-arm pacer made his List A debut for Uttar Pradesh in the 2018-19 Vijay Hazare Trophy on September 21, 2018. In the next year, he made his T20 debut for UP in Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Yash can also contribute with the bat lower down the order, which could be handy for Gujarat in the upcoming matches.

At 12, Yash’s father, Chandarpal, who was also a fast bowler and played in the Vizzy Trophy in the late 80s and early 90s, took his son to Madan Mohan Malviya Cricket Stadium in Allahabad.

“Whenever a young kid comes for a trial, and if he is a left-arm bowler, I give them special treatment. Left-arm pacers are so rare, and here I saw a 12-year-old kid moving the ball both ways. Everything was so natural about him, the wrist position, seam position, bowling action. Honestly, I didn’t have to do any work on him; he was well-coached before he came to our academy,” Amit Pal, Yash’s childhood coach, told Indian Express, while recalling the journey.

“There’s a saying, catch them young, and in Yash’s case, his father started grooming him very early. It helped him a lot. At the age of 14, he was in the U-19 camp of Uttar Pradesh. He played CK Nayudu Trophy (U-23) at the age of 17. He will always bowl on the higher side of the 130s,” he added.

Now, Yash has the opportunity to learn from the head coach Ashish Nehra (Head coach) and Gary Kirsten (Mentor) at Gujarat Titans. Both Nehra and Kirsten were part of India’s 2011 World Cup squad in different capacities, and who can be better than them to guide Yash in his cricketting journey.

Apart from these youngsters, there are the likes of Rajvardhan Hangargekar (CSK), Karthik Tyagi (SRH), Arjun Tendulkar (MI), Fazalhaq Farooqi (SRH), Dominic Drakes (GT), Mayank Yadav (LSG), Mohsin Khan (LSG), Anunay Singh (RR), Kuldip Yadav (RR), Vicky Ostwal (DC), Ishan Porel (PBKS), who still haven’t go the opportunity to showcase their talent for their respective franchises in the IPL 2022, but they surely are learning from the best coaches and mentors in the world.




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