Duleep Trophy final, Mohali, Day 3 March 6, 2004

Powar power and farmer fast bowlers

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan takes in the sights and sounds at the Duleep Tropy final and catches up with the characters at Mohali.

It has been a great week for the Powar brothers, with Ramesh breaking into the Indian one-day squad and Kiran producing a fighting hundred that revived East Zone's chances. Just as Kiran celebrated his century by pumping his fists, one of the spectators let out a loud roar - "Made in Bombay". Ramesh and Kiran lost their mother when they were hardly into their teens and it was left to their eldest sister, Gita, to bring up the boys. Kiran gained huge recognition at the junior levels when he captained the U19 side on an Australian tour in 1995 and hit a fine hundred against an attack that included Brett Lee.

However he hardly got a chance to represent Bombay and after a handful of matches, he moved to Goa. After some prolific seasons, he got a chance to play as a professional for Assam this season. Ramesh managed to find a regular place in the Bombay team and their careers hardly crossed paths. Ramesh admitted that this innings, which he saw from their home in Mumbai, was the first time he had seen Kiran score a first class hundred. "Kiran left for Goa early in his career and I hardly saw him bat. It was great to watch him on TV and enjoy such a good hundred."

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India's quest for a tearaway fast bowler continues, but the answer may lie in the smaller towns in Punjab. Bhupinder Singh Sr, former Indian cricketer and the coach of the current Punjab state side, feels that cricket in Punjab needs to widen its base into the smaller towns. "It is disheartening to visit smaller towns and villages and see hulky boys, nearly 6 feet 5 inches tall, working in their farmlands. There is a huge amount of talent here and the body structure of an average Punjabi is ideally suited for bowling fast. They excel in sports like hockey and Kabaddi, because of the huge incentives in these sports at the lower levels. There was a Kabaddi tournament in Jallandar recently, which lasted just three days, and the prize money ranged form 5 to 10 lakhs. Cricket has to find a way into these regions. That is when we will have some really quick bowlers."

He is optimistic about the future and admits to have immense confidence in three or four youngsters. "I have a lot of hopes for VRV Singh [who represented India in the recently concluded U19 World Cup]. He is not satisfied by bowling line and length and picking up wickets by pegging away. He wants to run in and bowl fast. That is the right attitude, but he still has a long way to go. There are a few others too, but it is important that they are given the right encouragement. Most captains do not prefer bowlers with that attitude, and would rather have bowlers sticking to a good line and length. That way, we can never produce a really fast bowler."

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