Unknown leggie wins Test legend's praise
With no expectations of even making an extended squad, this 'special' leggie lit up the IPL on its opening weekend
8 April 2018, 07:47 PM AEST
A few months ago Mayank Markande, like hundreds of young hopefuls from both India and abroad do every year, entered his name into the Indian Premier League auction with no expectation he'd get picked up.
On Saturday night, the leg-spinner dismissed the legendary MS Dhoni with a textbook wrong'un to send Wankhede Stadium into hysterics.
Only an eleventh-hour Dwayne Bravo masterclass with the bat could deny Markande's Mumbai Indians an IPL-opening victory, as the Chennai Super Kings snuck home by a wicket.
But the scalp of Dhoni, one of Markande's three wickets in a miserly debut spell, will be one he won't forget.
I was 10 years old when IPL began a decade ago. From the dream of playing in the tournament to making a dream debut, I have cherished every moment of my journey. Thank you @mipaltan for giving me the opportunity. Gutted with the result but we can turn it around. #IPL2018 pic.twitter.com/hRMhSaUtAM— Mayank Markande (@MarkandeMayank) April 8, 2018
The 20-year-old, having an over earlier picked up his maiden IPL wicket with his third delivery, completely deceived the former India captain with one that spun into his pads and was given out on review.
Originally spotted by Mumbai at a pre-auction trial, Markande was playing in an Under-23 game for his native Punjab when he was bought by the franchise for 20 Lakh (about A$40,000). When he turned on his phone at the end of the match, he had 37 missed calls and 300 messages.
Coach Mahela Jayawardena praised the "special" wrist-spinner after the Indians' narrow defeat.
"I thought he bowled brilliantly, we backed him when we saw him first at our camp," Jayawardena said.
"We knew that he was special...he came for two trial games for us.
"The occasion - the stadium was packed against CSK and he bowled well, I am pleased for him.
"We backed our youngsters. We knew that this is the year we have to do that."
The most economical of Mumbai's bowlers, Markande (who finished with 3-23 off his overs) looks set to be a key figure in reigning IPL champions' title defence.
The slender right-armer was the only spinner selected in the home side's XI for the Chennai clash, with the Indians banking heavily on their pace stars Jasprit Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman and Mitchell McClenaghan as well as seaming allrounder Hardik Pandya.
Among Mumbai's other spin options in their squad are Sri Lankan Akila Dananjaya, teenage leggie Rahul Chahar and allrounder Krunal Pandya (who played on Saturday night but didn't bowl).
"He is quite accurate and probably a bit different to a normal leg-spinner as well," Jayawardena said of Markande.
"The way he delivers the ball, the control he has with all his variations.
"He was very confident for a guy who has not played much T20 cricket. He has played lot of state cricket for Punjab.
"His attitude is great and we want to back those kind of guys, give them an opportunity and … he bowled really well."
Having begun playing cricket as a fast bowler, Markande was encouraged by coaches to switch to leg-spin early on after developing a knack for the ball-of-the-hand slower ball.
"I started playing cricket at the age of 10 or 11. I used to be a fast bowler, but I wasn’t all that quick," he told Mumbai Indians' official website.
"The coaches at the academy I went to advised me to give up fast bowling. Also, they were impressed with the fact that I used to bowl the back-of-the-hand slower one very well.
"So, they suggested that I switch to leg-spin. Then, I worked on it for a couple of years.
"Given that I already knew to bowl the googly, things panned out pretty well."