Ahead of the season’s first Ranji Trophy game against Tripura, Maharashtra’s left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar’s mind was filled with doubt. The immediate cause of concern was his match figures of one for 172 in the Duleep Trophy game earlier in early October. His figures from that game was an extension of his poor form in 2012-13 which saw him scalp just 10 wickets in six matches at an average of 62.60.
“I started doubting whether I had it in me really to take wickets consistently. Nothing had seemed to work that season. In the Duleep Trophy match also, I bowled and bowled but things did not go my way,” Darekar said.
The dip in form was even more frustrating because the 25-year-old from Dadar, the son of a cloth merchant, was coming off a good season in 2011-12. He had taken 42 wickets at 20.38.
This tally included five five-wicket hauls and he was the top wicket-taker among spinners that season. He was drafted into the India A squad that traveled to the West Indies. He didn’t seem out of depth and picked 11 wickets in two matches in the Caribbean.
Darekar couldn’t live up to the early promise he showed as the next season was a downhill road. An injury picked up while fielding in Maharashtra’s penultimate game of the season sidelined him for two months. His attitude was also questioned at times.
However, Darekar has put to rest the self-doubt and emerged as Maharashtra’s highest wicket-taker with 32 in 10 matches at an average of 28.40.
Darekar attributed his success to keeping things simple. “In that game (versus Tripura) I just bowled on or outside the off-stump. I did not waver from the line and even though I picked up two wickets in 19 overs, I ensured that I did the job assigned to me tidily. I was beating the batsmen and that helped me regain confidence,” Darekar said. More importantly Darekar is at peace with playing the role of a containing bowler. Darekar’s economy rate is 2.57 in 358 overs this season.
But it could have gone all wrong. The left-arm spinner was reported for a suspect action in the first innings in Maharashtra’s group game against Kerala. “When the umpires reported me, I was shocked. In my four seasons, my action was never questioned. It was a difficult time as it came when I was bowling so well,” spinner said.
However, Darekar said that the coaching staff stood behind him. “In the second innings, the umpires told me that I was in the clear. They had a suspicion but then after seeing me bowl once more, they were satisfied,” he said. Darekar finished with a seven-wicket match haul in that match.