IPL unknowns: Rajkot's mystery-man will confound batsmen; Mumbai bag unheralded Kamath - Firstpost
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IPL unknowns: Rajkot's mystery-man will confound batsmen; Mumbai bag unheralded Kamath

The contrasting tale of two unsung, unheralded Karnataka spinners who hit it big at the IPL auction is worth relating. While one went under the radar of almost all teams, the other triggered a bidding war before being sold for a whopping Rs 1.4 crore to Mumbai Indians on Saturday.

The first spinner, left-arm unorthodox bowler Shivil Kaushik was grabbed by Gujarat Lions for a mere Rs 10 lakh. Their scouts had done their homework well and towards the fag end of the auction when the call by the auctioneer was for accelerated bidding they quietly slipped his name in among the dozens of other names that cropped up.

Shivil Kaushik (L) and Kishore Kamath. Image: Fabeook/KPL site

Shivil Kaushik (L) and Kishore Kamath. Image: Fabeook/KPL site

There were no competing bids and Gujarat Lions almost celebrated when they bagged him for the base price.

Kaushik reminds most cricket aficionados of former South African bowler Paul Adams. His action almost resembles that of the South African whose bowling was famously described by a journalist as being like “frog in the blender”.

However Kaushik scores over Adams on two counts: he’s taller, probably stronger, and bowls with greater pace and accuracy than the South African.

Kaushik’s Hubli Tigers coach Anutosh Poll revealed that the thing that forced them to buy Kauhik for the Karnataka Premier League was not just his unorthodox bowling style but the inability of batsmen to pick him.

“He’s a back-of-the-hand bowler. But the most remarkable thing about it is that sometimes it comes out as a chinaman, sometimes googly and at other times just whips through as a top spinner. He himself confesses that he doesn’t know which one will turn which way,” he said.

This prompted them to bring him on as soon as the big hitting Stuart Binny came in to bat n the KPL. “He had no clue. He was cleaned up first ball,” Anutosh recalled.

Without doubt Kaushik is very difficult to read as many batsmen who have faced him confess. They claim that even when he occasionally pitches it short the ball zips, through probably because of his high-arm whippy action.

Kaushik is sure to get other teams to copiously study his bowling action, much the same way coaches studied Sri Lankan mystery bowler Ajanta Mendis’ action. Unless they quickly decipher which ball will come into the right hander and the one that will leave him, batsmen bent on aggression may not exactly middle the ball with any conviction. On such twists and turns are careers made.

More power to Kaushik’s arm.


Kishore Pramod Kamath’s career defining break came not at the IPL auction but at the KPL. And once again it was Hubli Tigers who had a hand in his success story, although in a rather convoluted way.

The Hubli Tigers had a place for one cricketer from their catchment area and when they had their training session at Hubli they had two promising aspirants for that post. One, of course, was the leg spinner Kishore Kamath, son of former Goa Ranji Trophy cricketer Pramod Kamath.

Pramod Kamath, an off spinner, could not get into the Karnataka team and therefore opted to play for Goa in the 1980s. He however lived in Hubli where he later went on to become a cricket coach. His son Kishore was being groomed as a leg spinner and like his father was an extremely hard-working cricketer.

Unfortunately Hubli Tigers, although convinced of his potential, did not select him as they needed the services of a wicket-keeper. So the catchment area quota went to another promising cricketer, Nitin Bile.

The story would have ended there except that KL Rahul, the India opening batsman who was away with the national team in Sri Lanka sustained an injury and just before the start of the KPL pulled out as he needed time to recuperate.

Hubli Tigers now had a slot vacant and remembered young Kishore who had studiously worked very hard when earlier called to their nets. He even got his break in the playing eleven and instantly came good. Obviously, the many talent scouts doing the rounds at the KPL spotted him and alerted the various IPL teams.

Royal Challengers tried to snatch him before Mumbai Indians bagged Kishore for a huge sum of money. It was just reward for a hard-working final year commerce student who’d travel to Bengaluru at every opportunity to play their tougher league cricket.

How many more such gems are out there in India’s hinterland waiting to be discovered and pushed on to the big stage is anybody’s guess. But the fact that fresh faces are being inducted each year from the KPL alone is proof that there are more out there all over India.

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