BPL 2015-16 November 28, 2015

The CPL hand in Dutta's Barisal sojourn

The story of how a Kuwait-born Canadian cricketer of Indian origin made heads turn after scything through Kevin Pietersen's defense in the CPL

Nikhil Dutta's action and delivery stride have elicited comparisons with his hero Sunil Narine © Peter Della Penna

The distance young Nikhil Dutta has travelled both literally - from Canada to Bangladesh via the Caribbean - and figuratively is reason enough to believe that while globalisation in cricket may be a dying concept, the spread of the game remains far and wide.

Barisal Bulls picking him in their squad for the 2015 Bangladesh Premier League is an advertisement for the T20 too, as the format is now becoming an accepted medium for talented players in cricketing backwaters to dream big.

Dutta, who considers Sunil Narine a hero, has an action that is similar to the Trinidadian. He comes from a longish run-up and points the ball up in the air with his right hand before quickly getting into the pivot and tossing up deliveries that are manipulated with his supple fingers. See his action from mid-off and the similarities to Narine are unmistakable.

"I really like Sunil Narine's bowling," Dutta told ESPNcricinfo. "He has a lot of variation, and is someone who gives away 20 runs in four overs in T20 cricket, so he should be considered a great bowler. It is very tough to do that, but he does it consistently. I have met him at the CPL. He has been really helpful by giving me tips. He is a really nice guy and very generous and humble.

"I picked up his bowling from TV actually and found that his action helps him as a bowler. He can deceive with his variation. It is tough for batsmen to pick, though he has played for a long time. People say you should copy the good things out of every player. I watch Youtube clips of lot of offspin bowlers and I try to pick up all the good things from them."

So far, he hasn't shot to limelight or set fields on fire. He turned 21 in October, and is still learning his craft. Even within the tumultuous BPL, he is picking up pointers from his Barisal teammates. To his credit, he has remained unflustered by the lack of opportunity. But with seven matches still remaining, there is still a chance of him featuring at some stage.

"I was picked after the draft by Barisal Bulls," Dutta said. "It is a great experience for me to play alongside some big cricketers, practicing with them and learning from them. It is a good opportunity for Canada in general by getting experience in the BPL. "[Not playing yet] is not frustrating at all. Just being with these players and practicing with them is a plus point for me. I want to gain a lot of experience and be ready for any situation."

Born in Kuwait City and raised in Toronto, Dutta, whose parents are from Kolkata, is of Bengali origin. His cricket-loving father Mihir, a software graduate who played league cricket in the city before moving to the Middle East in 1989, saw the nine-year-old Nikhil get excited watching the 2003 Cricket World Cup. Mihir would also move to Kenya before finally settling in Canada in 1999.

Mihir enrolled his cricket-loving son at indoor facilities in Toronto. Within five years, he saw him graduate to America's Under-15 team in the CLICOS International Under-15 Cricket Championships in Barbados. Dutta rose through the age-levels and in 2013, Dutta made his ODI debut for Canada.

So how did Barisal get wind of him?

In June this year, Dutta scythed one big-spinning off-break through Kevin Pietersen's driving bat and pad, on his CPL debut for the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots. He could play only three games but it was enough to attract attention of those who are in the loop to connect such talent to the T20 leagues.

"It was a great feeling to get Kevin Pietersen out," Dutta reminisced. "It was a great opportunity given to me by my CPL team St Kitts & Nevis Patriots. I feel my bowling is better for T20. I would like to expand to the longer format, which we don't have in Canada. We play 50-over and T20s there.

"I have variations which is very important in T20s. In longer format it is important to bowl with line and length. You never want the batsmen to be settled in T20s, so you always want the batsmen to think so it is good to have more option as a bowler," said Dutta.

Dutta has played almost all his cricket so far for the Ontario Cricket Academy where he first learned his trade. He said that the weekend leagues are competitive enough, especially due to the induction of overseas players. He feels that by being in the BPL, he is letting others back home dream of a future in cricket.

If he does play in the BPL, he won't be the first Canada player to do so. In the 2012 edition, Rizwan Cheema played one game for Duronto Rajshahi. But there will be a feeling of nostalgia among Bangladeshis to see someone who has similar roots take a big step in his bourgeoning career through the BPL. "I can't speak but I understand Bengali. My parents are from Calcutta," he said, before switching to Kolkata later in the interview.

Since the BPL is still exclusively for the professionals from Bangladesh's domestic scene and devoid of unfamiliar faces, the Bengali kid from Canada will now be looked upon to provide the tournament with the romance of the unknown talent.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84

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