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Monday, November 29, 2021

Ranji Trophy 2018: Plagued by injuries, Tushar Deshpande returns stronger than before

After a lengthy rehab, Tushar Deshpande returned much stronger, and if anything, was bowling quicker than ever before. Deshpande took 6/70 for Mumbai against Railways.

Written by Vishal Menon |
Updated: November 4, 2018 8:57:19 am
Tushar Deshpande took 6/70 for Mumbai against Railways. (Express Photo By Amit Mehra)

The last 12 months have been arduous for Tushar Deshpande. The Mumbai fast bowler missed the entire Ranji season last year because of an ankle injury. Following a surgery, he had barely hit his straps, when he tore his hamstring that relegated him to the sidelines once again. Crestfallen, he went to seek Mumbai Cricket Association’s physio Ashutosh Nimse’s help.

After a lengthy rehab, Deshpande returned much stronger, and if anything, was bowling quicker than ever before. He showed glimpses of his pace in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy, where he plucked 15 scalps. But with only eight first-class games from three seasons, Ranji Trophy cricket was what he was yearning for. When the opportunity presented itself, the 23-year-old accepted it with glee. Pitted against the Railways at the Karnail Singh Stadium, Deshpande bowled with sustained pace and accuracy to finish with 6/70. His lion-hearted efforts were instrumental in restricting the home team to 307 in their first-innings on Day 3.

Picking six wickets on such a docile track such as this one requires an exceptional effort. But Deshpande struck timely blows that helped Mumbai maintain their ascendancy. He succeeded because he was allowed to operate in short spells that kept him fresh and allowed him to keep his pace up. In these short bursts, Deshpande gave ample proof of his cricketing acumen, like the precision in his lines, and the judicious usage of the short ball, which accounted for three of his six scalps. Despite Deshpande’s heroics, the Railways lower-order displayed resilience to keep Mumbai at bay for a large part of the third day’s play. They were 296 runs adrift with only four wickets in the shed when play resumed on Saturday morning. Harsh Tyagi and Arindam Ghosh were locked in an intense battle of attrition to stem the rot. They were largely circumspect in their act, as they were more conscious of keeping their wickets intact. Slowly but surely the Railways got their innings back on track. Harsh Tyagi said: “My partnership with Arindam Ghosh was the key for us in the morning session today. That 58-run stand gave the rest of the batsmen confidence.”

Following Ghosh’s departure for 71, there were some priceless contributions from the bottom half. Tyagi scored 39, while Avinash Yadav fell two short of the half-century mark. Madhur Khatri and Anureet Singh too chipped in with stellar contributions that ultimately took them past the 300-run mark. In reply, Mumbai lost two early wickets in the second innings, but opener Akhil Herwadkar and Siddhesh Lad waded through choppy waters to take the visitors to 57/2 at stumps on Day 3, and Mumbai’s overall lead swelling to 161 runs.

Despite the Railways fightback, Deshpande took the top honours. For someone as natural as him, it’s surprising to note that he took to fast bowling almost as an after-thought. “I’d gone to Shivaji Park for trials but there was a long queue for batsmen. So I joined the line for bowlers,” he quipped. Mumbai’s Shivaji Park Academy was the place where Deshpande sharpened his skills. But the early initiation into the game came from his father Uday, a former A-division player.

The dream start to this season notwithstanding, Deshpande still has lot of work to be done to correct certain flaws in his bowling. Most obvious and glaring one is his tendency to overstep the line while completing his action. In his short start-stop domestic career, consisting of 21 innings, Deshpande has conceded 69 no-balls. That’s an average of a little more than 3 no-balls in every innings. Even in this innings against the Railways, he overstepped on four occasions. This is a stat Deshpande is not particularly proud of. He believed the reason for over-stepping was that he was constantly missing his run-up. “It’s my fault. This happens because of over aggression but now I’ve realized that it’s because I’m missing my run-up,” he said. “With time I have become more cautious, and now when I realize that I have missed my run-up, I stop half-way.”

Thankfully though, Deshpande has not kept a count of the number of wickets he has missed out because of overstepping the line. That stat would be even more damning. Brief Scores: Mumbai 411 and 57/2 vs Railways 307 (Arindam Ghosh 71, Avinash Yadav 48, Tushar Deshpande 6/70).

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