It’s an established pattern now: An IPL team picks an unknown cricketer, the opposition struggles to figure him out in the first season, the unknown cricketer finds instant stardom. But when he come back the season after, things change, the opponents prepare better and the dream goes bust very rapidly.
The IPL’s one-hit wonders are many -- Saurabh Tiwary found his moment in IPL 3 when he scored 419 runs at a good strike-rate of 135, which included three half centuries for the Mumbai Indians but then he never quite managed to find the same levels of success. The same can be said of Manish Pandey, who is still around but nowhere near the star we expected him to be when he became the first Indian to score a century in T20 cricket as a 19-year-old.
Sreenath Aravind was the highest wicket taker for RCB in IPL 4, taking 21 wickets in 13 matches. Now, no one knows where he is. Manpreet Gony rose to prominence with CSK and then faded away just as quickly. Paul Valthaty had an extremely good season in 2011 -- 463 runs at an average of 36 but he can’t seem to get a game anymore.
All this and we aren’t even getting into the huge number of role players who emerge every season. Players who are not bonafide star material but are given specific roles and get the job done. And honestly, when Pravin Tambe was plucked from obscurity at the age of 41, by Rajasthan Royals for IPL 2013 – he seemed to fit that bill -- a role player nothing more.
A leg-spinner whose closest brush with Ranji cricket was getting called up to the Mumbai probables in 2000, Tambe was the very definition of a journeyman cricketer. He had done the hard yards and got nowhere.
But presented with a chance – he’s stuck to his guns and improved. He generally bowls a flatish brand of accurate leg-spin but his variations of pace are interesting. What really makes him stand out though is his intensity. Other bowlers might shake their head or even throw their hands up in exasperation but Tambe seems distraught every time he gets hit.
It almost like he seems to say... to paraphrase a line from ‘The Natural,’ “It took me sixteen years to get here. You play me, and I'll give ya the best I got.” And that is something you have got to applaud.
You root for him. Not just because he is an old man who found his second wind and made it count; not because he’s a leg-spinner; not because a reminds us that everyone deserves a chance but simply because of the honesty with which he plays his cricket.
Even now, it seems ludicrous, that nobody wanted Tambe during the IPL auctions and he was eventually taken by RR for his base price of Rs 10 Lakhs.
Rajasthan captain Shane Watson praised hat-trick man Pravin Tambe for his fine bowling show against the Kolkata Knight Riders.
“PT (Tambe) just keeps going and going, getting big batsmen out all the time. He deserves a pay rise and he is making my life easier for sure,” he said.
After his hat-trick last night, he now has 12 wickets in IPL 7 and the purple cap.
“Rajasthan Royals have given me a lot of confidence in my life. This hat-trick is a first in my career,” Tambe said while he collected his Purple Cap. “At this level, you have to compete (with younger players), you cannot let the energy levels throughout. I never think of age. I just keep playing.”
And perhaps that is the difference between the other one-hit wonders and Tambe: He never lets the ball drop. The others took their foot off the pedal to enjoy their good fortune, Tambe took it all in and simply floored the pedal. He might not even stop for the lights now.
Updated Date: May 07, 2014 11:23 AM