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Match Analysis

Mumbai Indians run into Avesh Khan 2.0

He's bounced out Rohit Sharma, he's yorked Hardik Pandya, and his numbers suggest he's an utterly transformed bowler

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
It's a lot of fun being Avesh Khan. Now.
He is barely into his first over and he has Rohit Sharma hopping about. He's making one of India's very best look out of place, but there's nothing out-of-the-box about how he's doing it. Avesh has always been a hit-the-deck fast bowler. It's just that now he's learned to put the ball exactly where he wants to.
Kids who become superstars at Under-19 level produce a lot of excitement in India. Call it the Virat Kohli syndrome.
Avesh once belonged in this bracket. At the 2016 Youth World Cup, when India went all the way to the final, he was their highest wicket-taker. But while his peers from that tournament have gone on to bigger things - Rashid Khan is probably the world's greatest T20 bowler now, Shadab Khan is Pakistan's No. 1 limited-overs spinner, Shimron Hetmyer and Alzarri Joseph are West Indies regulars, and even Sandeep Lamichhane travels the world playing franchise cricket - Avesh has been stuck.
He couldn't even break into an IPL team. Avesh made his debut back in 2017. But until 2021 he had played only nine games in four years.
Imagine that. This is a new-ball/death bowler. A resource every team needs. And he clocks 140 kph and more. An asset in any form of the game. Plus, he's Indian, which means not only does he cover a specialist position for you, he also frees you up in your search for overseas picks. While most other franchises scour the globe for a quality quick, you could go and get a six-hitter or an allrounder. There's a lot of one and not a lot of the other.
But Avesh - the old Avesh - wasn't all that good. He gave away a boundary every four balls and he took 36 (roughly) to pick up a wicket.
Cut to 2021 though, and Avesh is a bowler transformed. Now, it takes about seven balls for him to concede a boundary and only 13 to pick up a wicket.
"I don't know if he can go any better than this," Anrich Nortje said midway through the Delhi Capitals' game against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday. And here's why.
Avesh is in his last over, the 19th of the innings, and he completely nails Hardik Pandya.
This is a yorker. Not just any yorker. It's an inswinging yorker. And it's a corker. At 141kph. Hardik is, at first, set up to helicopter the ball away. But it starts moving in the air. Moving scarily. Hardik is not in the right position. He's falling over and the ball keeps surging in. It slips through the gap between his feet - his feet! - and knocks back leg stump.
The old Avesh could produce such moments. But he wouldn't have finished a T20 game with an economy rate of 3.75. Top-class fast bowlers make it seem like they can do everything. Strike first, strike late, keep the runs down, make batters wet their pants. Avesh is finally starting to look like he can tick all those boxes.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo