Once beaten, twice try

By Ayon Sengupta

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Sudeep Tyagi at last had his long-awaited IPL debut in South Africa this season. Tyagi came out of nowhere when Uttar Pradesh skipper Mohammad Kaif spotted him at the state nets and handed him an opportunity in the big league when UP were in a spot of bother with seamer Shalabh Srivastava drifting to ICL.

He had a 10-wicket haul on debut against Orissa and finished the Ranji Trophy season with 41 wickets in 2007-08. His meteoric progress was acknowledged by Chennai Super Kings and the 21-year-old was drafted in for the inaugural IPL. “I was on a roll. From being a net bowler, I became the strike bowler for my state side and people were even saying that I was one of the contenders for the India side,” Tyagi says.

But a stress fracture on his back ruled him out and he had to wait six months to recover before being picked for India A for the home series against Australia A. In a four-day game, he destroyed the Aussies with his pace and reverse swing getting the better of players like Simon Katich, Philip Hughes, Adam Voges, Marcus North and Luke Rhonchi. Even the rival skipper and Aussie opener Katich had a word of praise for him.

“After the initial high, those six months on the sidelines were painful. But I came back more matured and learnt how to pace myself throughout a match. You cannot and should not bowl with the same intensity across a four-day game. You have to bowl according to the situation and condition. I learnt all that during my rehabilitation programme at the NCA (National Cricket Academy) in Bangalore.”

Tyagi now is taking a break after his IPL success and vacationing in Jaipur when we caught up with him. “After watching the first season from the sidelines I was adamant about being a part of this frenzy this year. Fortunately, the team management reposed their faith and I hope I lived up to their expectations,” Tyagi says.

“It was very helpful to work closely with Venkie Sir (Team India’s bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad, who was also a part of Chennai’s support staff for IPL II). I had some problems bowling to the left-handers and he asked me to change my angle and tweak my action a bit and that has helped.”

Tyagi says he enjoyed every moment of the cricket madness in South Africa and also the camaraderie amongst players from different nationalities. “The atmosphere in the dressing room was electrifying. I was the official Hindi instructor,” he says. And he had quite a few heavyweights as students. “Initially it was the Tamil Nadu guys, Ashwin, Badrinath and Amarnath.

But then even Matthew Hayden and Murali (Muttiah Muralitharan) joined in. Murali already knew a bit; only his diction was not perfect.” The Tamil trio, though, failed in their quest to teach Tyagi a word or two of their language. “If Chennai’s a venue for IPL III, I’ll pick up Tamil.”

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