IPL 2012

A wanderer gets his big break

Manvinder Bisla has changed several teams - in Ranji Trophy and IPL - in search of a big opportunity. Fate presented it to him on the night of the IPL final

Sidharth Monga

May 28, 2012

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A

Manvinder Bisla goes on the attack, Kolkata Knight Riders v Chennai Super Kings, IPL 2012, final, Chennai, May 27, 2012
Manvinder Bisla played an innings people will not forget in the IPL final © Associated Press
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Until May 27, Manvinder Bisla was best known for being a Tillakaratne Dilshan lookalike. He was also known as a man for whom a trap was allegedly set by undercover reporters from a news channel. Bisla was one injudicious shot from being suspended by the BCCI, like five other cricketers. Like the others, he was not a big name, and the BCCI wouldn't have thought twice had Bisla been caught showing more than a passing interest in what the reporters were offering. Thankfully he left that sucker ball outside off, and on Sunday he reaped the maximum benefits of his judgement.

Bisla was born in Hisar in Haryana, a town known for badminton player Saina Nehwal and the highway dhabas ideally suited for those driving to and from Delhi, in north-western India. He played for India Under-19, but didn't waste much time in leaving Haryana to play Ranji Trophy for Himachal Pradesh. After impressing everyone there, Bisla got a better offer from Jammu & Kashmir, and made the move again. Only to return a season later.

This kind of impatience is not appreciated in Indian cricket. Only those cricketers who missed the bus on India selection play for other states as professionals. Loyalty to your association is valued. Those associations are supposed to fight for your selection in return. Bisla, though, was ambitious, and perhaps more of a modern-day cricketer who didn't have time for these niceties. Those reporters had nearly got it right.

Himachal, though, saw the other side of Bisla too. For starters, the coach there, Rajdeep Kalsi, thought he might have a future India player at hand. Those were the days before MS Dhoni had said hello to Pakistan, and neither Ajay Ratra nor Parthiv Patel had done enough to make the India wicketkeeping slot his own. Bisla scored three centuries in 2004-05, and got those who mattered talking about him. John Wright, then the India coach, made a trip to watch him play for North Zone. Bisla was close to representing India through a route less taken.

In three matches, though, Bisla managed just 39 runs, and Dhoni blasted a fifty against Bangladesh Cricket Board XI. There hasn't been a chance since. The nearly man continued to have run-ins with fate. Himachal named him captain in 2006, but he tore a ligament in his knee. It was an identical injury to Yuvraj Singh's, and the two went to the same doctor in Delhi. Bisla's ambition, though, didn't know bounds. He couldn't reach a contractual agreement with Himachal and went without any first-class cricket this last season. Had he been able to do this without IPL is anybody's guess.

The absence of blind faith in one team didn't stop him from being a team man, though. Kalsi, his coach at Himachal, swears by Bisla's spirit. "As a cricketer he is very competitive," Kalsi says. "That stood out when he played for us. Big heart.

"More than that, as a human being, as a person, he brought great value to the dressing room. He wouldn't think about just himself. Never sulked in a corner when he failed to make big runs. Thought about the whole team. Encouraged youngsters. Was wicketkeeper, would think nothing of running all the way up to the bowler, kept the team together through tough sessions."

Yet that early promise didn't transform into much. The season with three hundreds was never replicated. An average of 29 for this medium-pacer-turned-wicketkeeper-batsman wasn't breaking down doors. Dhoni, too, had destroyed all other wicketkeepers' aspirations. Then, along came IPL, where in theory, one night could take you out of obscurity, unlike in Ranji Trophy.

That night kept eluding Bisla, though. Even in the IPL, he couldn't settle down with one team. Kolkata Knight Riders were his third side in four years. On that sting operation tape he wasn't seen guaranteeing he wouldn't get a fourth in its sixth year. The undercover reporters were seen offering him a place in Mumbai Indians, but he was seen saying he wasn't interested because he wanted opportunities, something he wasn't getting with Knight Riders even.

A certain restlessness has been the consistent feature of Bisla's career. He needed to settle down somewhere. He needed a May 27. May 27 wasn't even supposed to happen. Then L Balaji injured himself. For the balance of the team, Knight Riders had to sit Brendon McCullum out, and play Bisla. For weeks he had not got an opportunity, and now this was the biggest opportunity he could get.

May 27 was that night, Bisla's night. He backed himself, and pulled out an uninhibited innings of mostly clean hitting. The commentators began to now see a bit of Jacques Kallis in his shots. The team owner, a multi-millionaire and the most popular Bollywood actor of his time, couldn't stop praising and thanking him. After about eight years of wandering and restlessness, Bisla might have finally found home on May 27. They won't be approaching him for stings any time soon.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Naresh28 on (May 30, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

An eye-catching innings from Bisla. That wicketkeeper slot is now his for the taking. The real test will come overseas. At least we may have found a replacement for Dhoni when we defend our next ODI world cup. Wicket keeping has taken its toil on Dhoni.

Posted by Naresh28 on (May 30, 2012, 8:58 GMT)

@Nishanth is right. Real character can be tested only in overseas conditions. High bounce at pace is the undoing of Indian batsman. We need tall batsman of Dravid and Laxman mould. Rohit Sharma fits the bill ,but is a careless batsman. He should learn to put value on his wicket.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

I wonder how these guys can talk about Bisla when proven wicket keeper batsman Wriddiman Saha is waiting in wings. He has shown that he best than Dhoni in foreign conditions and a good wicket keeper. No matter, Bisla has to prove that he is not a flash in pan. It's time for Dhoni to bid farewell from Test Cricket and give a chance to Wriddiman Saha. How can u guys forget about Saha's debut against daring Dale Steyn & Co. in Nagpur and his last test match in Australia, let him play a fair chances, before thinking about any other wicket keeper like Ojha & Bisla. Parthiv & Karthik are gone from the scene.

Posted by   on (May 30, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

india team 1) manvinder bisla 2)Yousuf pathan 3) sachin 4)Dhoni 5)suresh raina 6)ravindra jadeja 7)jaheer khan 8)umeshy yadav 9)gautham gambir 10)vinay kumar 11)murali vijay

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

Talking up the potential of Bisla is good, however, instead of the national team straight away, i believe he should be in A team tours. How many ppl other than me still think that Dhoni should stop playing test cricket, he is already aging!! its better for indian cricket to give the guy with the most potential/experience after dhoni a chance - that happens to be Naman ojha/Dinesh karthik respectively.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 17:05 GMT)

Thanks for this wonderful piece, I think this is what dreams are made of, by all means he should be out there in the A XI, but that is another smelling kettle of fish held by the Selectors and Dhoni i presume... This guys has what it takes like the many who surfaced in the IPL... Its about time many in the Indian XI do the long walk, there is so much talent that can take the place.

Posted by Tawhid_002 on (May 29, 2012, 16:38 GMT)

As a Bangladeshi, first i want to congratulate Bisla for his great innings. What a knock in chasing a huge total in the final match in nerve biting condition. Also congrats to Kallis, Tiwary & Shakib. I think the way Bisla played was more likely to VVS Laxman (only my opinion). If he keeps his temperment, he will be the real asset for India national team. BCCI should include him in the squard. I find another promising indian player(Bowler). He is Umesh Yadav (Delhi Daredevils). He has the real pace but need care to grow up as champion bowler by improving his line & length.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

20la20la. Sidharth really loved the way you felt and got in the making of Manvinder Singh 20la. Greater stories are those which go unnoticed because of missed chances and missed company of that perpetual thing called fate. The world as we see goes by those who have become what they could have become and not by those who could not become what they could have. What we always see is a winner and mostly fail to acknowledge the spirit and effort put in by a loser. Survival of the fittest I guess. I loved Manvinder Singh 20la's game and humility after the bug 27th night. Will pray for him getting a chance to don the Indian jersey asap. And, as I have always felt, no matter however cynics demean IPL for all the things, one thing is a clear winner- many youngsters can pursue cricket as a profession even without playing for India. WoW!!!

Posted by Khairul101 on (May 29, 2012, 11:26 GMT)

Thanks Bisla to enjoyed IPL final.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 9:55 GMT)

Mithun and Vinay - not good enough...wonder what Saurab Tiwary and Jadega have to get so much. Manoj Tiwary has been given just 1 innings and he has done well in those. Balaji - he looks good but why ishe overlooked? Murali Karthik - can't he play tests? Rahul Sharma seems to be fading away. Ojha and Aswin are not penetrative enough. Can't believe Unadkdat was selected for India once. Venu Rao like Uthapaa and Irfan have been dealt badly. Even Ganguly after a good SA away series where he was the only one to score well was dropped! There are so many such stories. Kanitkar and Praveen Amre too were discarded after they did well.

Posted by CRIC_or_CRIC on (May 29, 2012, 9:50 GMT)

He does deserve a chance in the national team... However he needs to prove himself more. So give him a chance in the Second Eleven n take out players like V Rao.

Posted by sachx1 on (May 29, 2012, 9:09 GMT)

@Giridharan Jagannathan - I totally dont understand why many doesnt like Ajit Agarkar and that includes you. By any means his stats doesnt tell anything wrong for a Indian Bowler. In his 188 innings he took 288 wickets with an average of 27.85 and an economy of 5.07 with a strike rate of 32.9. Now lets see how the best Indian bowler Zaheer Khan has fared in ODI's . Zaheer has 192 innings and took 278 wickets with an average of 29.03 and an economy of 4.91, with a strike rate of 35.4.

Now these are not my figures , this is what cricinfo profile of both players say. Why are all of you considering Zaheer as the best Indian bowler and Agarkar as the worst Indian bowler?

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 7:31 GMT)

last year when paul valthaty came into the seen after scoring hundred...i was not very impressed with the way he played though he got the century but the manner bisla played and his batting was all clean hitting against quality bowlers like ashwin,bravo.....i saw him playing wen he was 19 years old and always thought that this guy had potential to make very big....In ma opinion karthik shud be kept for test matches if again dhoni dont come up well...i dont have much hopes from parthiv,,i found his batting not too inspiring...give naman ojha and bisla chances in odi and t20 too wenever dhoni not playing.....

Posted by joseyesu on (May 29, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

1 performance had lead people to think of BISLA in WC2020.

Posted by MARK_Mithu on (May 29, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

Bisla might thank Gambhir, Shakib & McCullum, coz bad show of McCullum, Good Show of Shakib forced Gambhir to Peak Bisla...where Bisla Made a history.... This is the most influential innings of IPL final history.........

Posted by CricFan78 on (May 29, 2012, 5:24 GMT)

Sorry to burst the bubble but I think Naman Ojha is much better candidate than Bisla. He has been far more consistent in both Ranji and IPL and has held some amazing catches as well.

Posted by anver777 on (May 29, 2012, 5:09 GMT)

I wish talented Bisla's cricket career will take a different path after this class knock.. he is really good in T20s so why not include him in WC T20 squad !! over to BCCI...

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

"Sidharth Monga" thank you and Manvinder Bisla as well. One of the fine tuning article on sports for someones heroic illustration manuscript ed in well composed words....I was looking for Bislas performace and said myself " don't worry the man in crease (Bisla) knows cricket better than me!

Posted by nishanth.APPAJI on (May 29, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

Bisla i feel will be good only sub-continent pitches (flat pitches)...need to see him play on pitches with some movement before being considered for india.

Posted by omthapa on (May 29, 2012, 4:19 GMT)

great bisla you are always thankful to me as i am one of the fans of kkr team and king khan.only u can provide what we want and u have done it.and thank to kallis including all of players of kkr and keep the spirit up!

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 3:38 GMT)

Bisla's bowling skills could have been used. He is a better bat than Parthiv or Saha. Karthik is fine for tests. Bisla should be playing as backup in ODIs and t20s. Vijay Dahiya did well for India to be dropped. Maybe he has something to do with this...Bisla played well for Kings XI but they were small innings showing minor sparks now and then. Some players like Chawla, Misra, RP Singh, Saha, Vijay, Jadega, Agarkar, Yousf and Rohit Sharma (to an extent although talented), Powar, Parthiv, etc have been totally useless and have been getting chance after chance. Some like Joginder, Tyagi, Mukund, etc seem to be wasting away. A few - kaif, murali karthik, dinda, nehra, uthappa, etc look good in patches. Of the new lot only Kohli seems international class. Bowling too remains a worry for India.

Posted by praveen4honestremark on (May 29, 2012, 3:20 GMT)

I am feeling excited to watch Bisla again play good knocks and come into Indian ODI team soon as opening batsman and also as Bisla is keeper he can help Dhoni at times if Dhoni feels overloaded with work; and moreover Bisla is looking like a real team player, even if he don't keep wickets it's ok..just as opener he is perfect for opening, should be selected for T20 starting in Srilanka. Gambhir should be replaced with Bisla .Bisla as a opener i feel can replace Gambhir quite easily. I am not saying based on this single performance. I am just saying looking at Bisla attitude and Character which is far good than Gambhir and Sehwag... Hope selection committee is looking this message and sack Gambhir to replace with Bisla, believe me it's best choice and not risk.Selection committee select Bisla. Dhoni, please push Bisla for selection ahead of Gambhir in T20 world cup.Gambhir is arrogant too. And also try a replacement for Sehwag soon, Sehwag's attitude is costing team a lot.

Posted by   on (May 29, 2012, 2:05 GMT)

May 28 was that day - the day Monga produced the best piece of his career. Take a bow, Sid.

Posted by Sehwag_Is_Ordinary on (May 28, 2012, 23:01 GMT)

Not only batting, Bisla is very good with keeping too.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 22:20 GMT)

Amazing article. Monga is a magician of words.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 20:36 GMT)

Great article! What we usually see is not what we get; Manvinder Bisla for all his competitive, aggressive nature (on the pitch) has a softer, humane side. Best wishes to him!

Posted by Alexk400 on (May 28, 2012, 20:03 GMT)

Bisla knock gave KKR belief once they lost gambhir. khallis is in the other end helped immensley bisla. He should be in T20 team. Playing in pressure situation is not easy that to target 190 that to against champion team like CSK. its not easy to hit cunning wiley bravo. He is better than rahane .

Posted by Naikan on (May 28, 2012, 18:33 GMT)

Thank you for this wonderful article with such a window view of Bisla's life. While I feel sorry for the untapped potential years that went by, I am very happy that he got his night eventually. It is good that he stayed with Shahrukh Khan's team. After all, the story literally reads like a Shahrukh Khan film. For like in the Khan multi starrer film Om Shanti Om, he is reborn and I am sure at peace with himself now - savouring every moment of that wonderous innings which fetched victory for the team.

Posted by squarepeg on (May 28, 2012, 18:27 GMT)

Sting operations should be conducted on players who are suspected to have been paid more than the IPL ceiling, not as a lure to tempt cricketers from middle-class background. Happily for all, Bisla didn't bite. But would a willingness to take money be the same as having taken money? Bisla can still play serious cricket for India if he can make repeats of his inning of IPL final. he clearly has the temperament, and hopefully he will develop the hunger to improve each time.

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 17:11 GMT)

Shakib al hasan is the best of all... he is the real hero.. no. 1 all rounder around the world...

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 16:42 GMT)

Monga is a magical writer........Awesome article

Posted by   on (May 28, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

GREAT BISLA! AN UNSUNG HERO

He needs to REPLACE SAHA as a BACKUP KEEPER

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