India v West Indies, ICC U-19 World Cup, Townsville

All-round Passi justifies selection

Kamal Passi missed the opening game against West Indies for the sake of playing more spinners. Today, he seized his chance with a six-for and a blazing late-innings cameo

George Binoy in Townsville

August 14, 2012

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Kamal Passi reacts after taking a wicket, India v Zimbabwe, Group C, ICC Under-19 World Cup, Townsville, Aug 14, 2012
Kamal Passi bowled primarily good-length balls that swung into the right-handers with a front-on, open-chested action © ICC/Getty

When Kamal Passi was asked after his Man-of-the-Match performance against Zimbabwe whether he considered himself an allrounder, his response was: "bilkul (totally), and I'll prove it too."

He had already done his bit to prove it: 24 blitzed off five balls and a career-best 6 for 23 to put India on course for the quarter-finals of the Under-19 World Cup.

Passi did not play in the defeat against West Indies on Sunday because India picked three spinners and preferred Sandeep Sharma and Rush Kalaria as the seamers. He was chosen over Kalaria today. When Passi had his first opportunity to make an impact on the game, at No. 8 in the batting order, India were 237 for 6 and time was running out: there were five balls left in the innings.

"There were five balls remaining, I was new, Smit [Patel] was already batting," Passi said. "I told him, I'll take a single and then you play. But I got all those short balls..."

Passi pulled the first one, from medium-pacer Curthbert Musoko, to the midwicket boundary. He was lucky against the second: he swung so hard that the top edge carried over fine leg for six. The third also disappeared over fine leg, more intentionally this time and, after a two to long-on, the final ball disappeared over the midwicket boundary once again. His innings had lifted India to a target that was on the right side of competitive.

During the lunch break, Passi warmed up by bowling at the coach Bharat Arun, while his team-mates went through fielding drills. The second over, with the second new ball, was his. He bowled primarily good-length balls that swung into the right-handers with a front-on, open-chested action, running through the crease as he delivers at around 130kph. A bowler with a wiry physique, Passi has less of a jump than Ashish Nehra does.

He conceded only one run in his opening over from the River End, and struck off consecutive balls - the last of the second over and first of the third. Kevin Kasuza did not move his feet while trying to cut and was caught behind, while Luke Masasire was bowling trying to hoick across the line at a full delivery that swung. Two more wickets came off short balls, one was edged to the keeper and the other pulled to midwicket.

After an opening spell of seven overs, Passi spent the next couple of hours watching Malcolm Lake score an outstanding hundred that raised Zimbabwe's hopes of a come-from-behind victory. "The Zimbabwe team batted well and during the slog overs it seemed as if the game might change," Passi said. "Those runs I scored were important, if I had not the score would have been 240. It was good for our bowlers."

There were two wickets remaining and 70 runs to get. Passi got both, with a full ball and a slower one, in seven deliveries to finish with 8.1-1-23-6.

Passi made the India Under-19 team after progressing through age-group cricket in Punjab. He played for the state U-15 team in 2007, the U-16s the following year, and the U-19s in 2009.

"At U-19 I've performed at state level for two years," he said. "I had a very good feeling I could play for my country and my performance today is my best for India."

Passi's first U-19 game for India was during the Quadrangular Series involving India, Sri Lanka, West Indies and Australia in Visakhapatnam in September 2011. He took five wickets in three matches and made six runs with two not outs in the lower order. Not quite a proven allrounder yet.

He then came to Townsville for another quadrangular tournament earlier this year and took six wickets in five games. He also made 41 off 30 balls against Australia, batting at No. 9. He went wicketless and was expensive in the semi-finals and finals of that tournament. "I first toured here in April, and everyone thinks on a bouncy track you can try short balls, but that's no use here because overseas batsmen play the short ball well," he said. "So I worked on my basics and bowled a good line and length this time."

The Under-19 Asia Cup did not happen for Passi because of a hamstring injury. While his team-mates were experiencing the pressure of one-run defeats and tied matches, Passi was undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore.

"I was playing district matches and I got injured, so I missed the Asia Cup," he said. "I felt very bad … but whatever has happened has happened for the best. Had I gone to the Asia Cup and got injured there, I would have perhaps missed the World Cup."

Passi's performance today has made him almost impossible to drop, so as long as he stays fit, it's unlikely he'll be missing any more of the World Cup.

George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Naresh28 on (August 15, 2012, 12:41 GMT)

@gdbdduy agree with you. The one good point is that at Harmeet Singh might be in when we play the bigger matches. Still batting and bowling is a concern.

Posted by jango_moh on (August 15, 2012, 1:00 GMT)

passi bowled well, decent pace bowling against the wind, and swing... he did score in the last 5 balls, but thats nothing to rave about, a regular tailender getting lucky, id like to see how he bats in normal situations to judge if he can actually bat... ppl get hyper over 24 slog runs.... lol

Posted by pitch_it_up on (August 14, 2012, 17:42 GMT)

Frankly speaking, India's U19 team performance in the last two games did no ooze much confidence. Batsmen seemed struggling on bouncy pitches. Even against an attack like that of Zim, this team struggled. If not for Passi's lil cameo (and please, don't make a big issue of this), we would have had a below sub-par score, and would have lost this game hands down.

The bowling too lacked bite. If not for some generosity by Zim batsmen, we would have lost this game. 6-23 from Passi not withstanding, all our bowlers are way behind bowlers from Aus, SA, West Indies, Pak teams. Nothing against our players (it never is), but BCCI and its coaches/administrators haven't done anything to groom quality pace and spin bowlers, and batsmen who can bat on bouncy pitches.

And watch out this kid - Malcolm Lake. If groomed properly, this kid will win lot of matches for his team and break several records.

Posted by Shantaveer on (August 14, 2012, 17:08 GMT)

I saw this match, he batted well when India needed. I will play in IPL soon.

Posted by   on (August 14, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

good player >>>>>.... for future

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George BinoyClose
George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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