Delhi v Uttar Pradesh, Ranji Trophy final, Mumbai, 1st day January 16, 2008

Foreign fields help youngsters dominate on home turf



Pradeep Sangwan is gunning for a memorable five-for in the Ranji Trophy final (file photo) © Cricinfo Ltd
 

The two stars of the day have something in common. Uttar Pradesh's Tanmay Srivastava, who cracked a fine century, and Delhi's Pradeep Sangwan, the best bowler on view, had just returned from India's Under-19 tour of South Africa.

Both are reaping the benefits of that exposure and reckon the Wankhede wicket was similar to the ones they played on in South Africa. Their display today was no coincidence; the wicket offered consistent bounce and good carry and the two knew how to be effective.

Tanmay took UP out of troubled waters. Mohammad Kaif and Suresh Raina, their main run-getters of the season, had fallen cheaply and Delhi were biting into the brittle lower half when Tanmay took charge. The front foot was not pushed across and the bat didn't jab at the ball as he played close to the body. The ball did dart around in the morning but he saw through that phase before playing his shots.

"The wicket was moving a touch in the morning but settled down. It was quite similar to South Africa. The bounce was little less here and the pace a bit faster there," Tanmay said. Aakash Chopra thinks the South African experience could have been a hindrance had the Wankhede track had been a typical slow Indian track. "I remember after I came from Australia [in 2003-04], we didn't play in Feroz Shah Kotla but at another ground in Delhi. It took some time to adjust back to the slowness of the track and I had to make an effort not play a touch early."

Another tip Tanmay got on tour was from the coach, WV Raman. Raman, a fellow left-hander, told Tanmay to open his stance a bit to allow for a smoother downward bat swing and to have better visibility of a right-hand bowler charging from over the wicket.

"I couldn't use it much on tour as I didn't want to tamper with the technique mid-tour. But I tried it out in the nets a bit and over here, I did that [in the match]," Tanmay said. "Scoring runs on the wickets there [he made 240 runs in five matches at an average of 60] has obviously made me more confident. It's not only the South African tour. I toured England and a few other places as well. I have started to play better in front of the wicket and I am trying to increase my concentration levels." While Tanmay has still a long way to go as his first-class average of 31.58 suggests, the recent overseas tours has emboldened him to walk on the right path.

 
 
The board wanted to increase the overseas tours in challenging conditions for all age groups and also moved the semi-finals and final of the Ranji Trophy to neutral venues. The curator Sudhir Naik said he had been instructed to produce a sporting track with bounce and the two turks, fresh from tasting success in South Africa, have enjoyed their outing
 

Meanwhile, Sangwan is desperate for two more wickets on Thursday to get a prized five-for in the final. "The bounce was pretty similar to South Africa. There was the same balloonwala bounce there and so I knew the right lengths to hit. Only thing was that I had to adjust back to the SG ball from the Kookaburra but I think I managed to do that."

At 17 the youngest Delhi bowler on view, he was by far the best, bowling a good line outside off, Though he was guilty of bowling a touch short on occasions, it was a pretty satisfying day's work.

Manoj Prabhakar has been of great help as Delhi's bowling consultant. Sangwan would take the ball away from the right-hander with the natural left-armer's action but, under Prabhakar, he has started to bend the ball back in. "Sir [Prabhakar] has made me bowl closer to the wicket and importantly, worked on my wrist position. It used to fall early at the release and now I have improved and keep it up till late. That has helped me to get bring the ball back in."

The Indian board should be credited for two moves. The board wanted to increase the overseas tours in challenging conditions for all age groups and also moved the semi-finals and final of the Ranji Trophy to neutral venues. The curator Sudhir Naik said he had been instructed to produce a sporting track with bounce and the two youngsters, fresh from tasting success in South Africa, have enjoyed their outing in Mumbai.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo