Rajesh Vithal Pawar
September 06, 1979, Bombay (now Mumbai), Maharashtra
Left hand bat
Slow left arm orthodox
When he made his first-class debut in 1996, aged 16, Rajesh Pawar was being touted as India's next great left-arm spin hope. He went on to lead the Mumbai Under-19 side and was part of the Indian U-19 squad at the 1998 junior World Cup, a side that comprised Mohammad Kaif and Harbhajan Singh. He was the revelation in the 1999-00 domestic season, grabbing 44 first-class wickets and coming close to national selection.
But he struggled to hold his place in a strong Mumbai line-up - comprising a formidable spin trio of Nilesh Kulkarni, Sairaj Bahutule and Ramesh Powar - and could manage only 30 wickets in his next three seasons. A move to neighbouring Baroda, with a little help from club-mate Zaheer Khan, allowed him to start afresh and despite a sluggish start, with only three wickets from four games in 2003-04, he's been a consistent performer over the last three seasons.
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan May 2007
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