Dubai: Tushar Deshpande, the cherubic medium pacer of Delhi Capitals, could not have asked for a better Indian Premier League (IPL) debut than the one he had against Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday. The wicket of dangerman Ben Stokes, a tight final over and a haul of two for 37 was surely an impressive one - more so in a team which has Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortje as fast bowling partners.
‘‘Yes, the wicket of Stokes was special as he was carrying the match. The pitch was playing slow and when I came back for my second over, my plan was to lure him with a slower ball. He played a false shot and was caught at mid-on and the wicket helped in shifting the momentum towards us,’’ said the 25-year-old seam bowler from Mumbai.
It was a hard-earned win for the impressive Capitals, which saw their captain Shreyas Iyer leaving the ground during the Royals chase after hurting his shoulder awkwardly while trying to stop a shot at mid-on. However, the team management must be happy at the emergence of Deshpande as one of their medium pace bowling options when he made the most of an opportunity in place of Harshal Patel.
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‘‘When the captain told me that I would be bowling the second over, I was really excited. With Kagiso Rabada at the other end someone like Nortje in the team, I was given the big responsibility and was a little nervous,’’ he said after the game. ‘‘However, once I bowled the first ball and managed to hit the right length, I was better. I went for two fours and gave away 11 runs in that over but then, the margin in error is very less in the IPL. I was happy that I could finally execute my plans,’’ he said.
It’s still early days, but it could be yet another story of a young cricketer’s dream coming true in the IPL for Deshpande, who was a starry-eyed ball boy in the first edition of the league in 2008. Deshpande made his first-class debut for Mumbai in the 2016–17 Ranji Trophy in 2016, but had to wait for a few seasons before making his ‘List A’ debut in the 2018–19 Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2018. He took his first five-wicket haul in List A cricket in the quarter-finals of the tournament the same season when his 5/23 routed Bihar for 69.
How was it bowling the last over as a debutant against the Royals? ‘‘See, KG (Rabada) bowled a phenomenal 19th over, after which I had 22 runs to defend - which is a lot. I gave myself a target of not giving more than eight runs. I must also thank Ajinkya Rahane for that stop which made my over look a very special one,’’ he said.
Asked if he was ready to be in the playing XI in the otherwise settled line-up, Deshpande felt he had a hunch that his turn may come as the season is heading towards the business-end. ‘‘I was kept in the 12 for last three to four matches, so I was mentally prepared. However, I didn’t know if I would be playing even when we were leaving for the ground. It was only in the stadium when Ricky (Ponting) told me that I was in.
‘‘I was definitely little nervous and restless because I kept thinking that I was too close to realising a dream now. With us batting first, my nerves settled a bit,’’ he said.
‘‘It has now sunk in that I have got my IPL cap. However, there’s a lot to improve,’’ Deshpande added.