CHENNAI: In a team that is abundant in spinners, it’s hard to keep the eyes away from R Sai Kishore. Not only because of his six-foot-three-inch frame but also the way he has let his fingers do the talking.
Since the start of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the left-arm spinner has headlined in almost all the matches that Tamil Nadu played and won.
With 18 scalps at an economy of 4.26, he is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament as Tamil Nadu are a win away from making it to the semifinals. Having made his T20 debut in 2018, this is the first time he featured in all the matches. With too many spinners in the ranks, holding on to a spot did not come easy. However, with D Vasu as coach, things became clear for Kishore, in terms of his role in the team.
That, he explains, is one of the reasons why he was able to hit the right note throughout the tournament. The 23-year-old bowled most of his overs in the Powerplay this edition and more often than not, has been successful. “The team management told me about my role pretty clearly after the Vijay Hazare Trophy,” says Kishore from Surat. “They said I will be starting off with the new ball. I prepared myself in the 10 days we had. My thinking got better with that clarity I received.”
For a person who likes to analyse things, on and off the field — no brainer he is pursuing MBA in analytics now after completing engineering — Kishore says his match awareness is something that has improved over the years and because of which, he is able to pick up wickets at regular intervals than before.
“I’m able to understand by bowling better,” he explains. “The difference (in the way you bowl) in different formats. Importantly, I’m now able to read the batsmen which I was not able to do a few years back. What is the batsmen trying to do in the Powerplay, their intent.. those things, I’m able to get a hang of it.”
This awareness, he says, has come because of watching and interacting with the likes of Dinesh Karthik, Washington Sundar, Murali Vijay, Vijay Shankar. With a handful of India internationals in the side, Kishore didn’t have to look beyond the team for game-related queries.
“I seek help from players who’ve played IPL or Deodhar Trophy. We have Vijay anna, Vijay Shankar, Dinesh Karthik, Washi — the guys who’ve played at the highest level. I constantly ask them questions like ‘if this is the situation how do you handle it’ and learn from it.”
It has been a good year for him so far. From finishing the Ranji Trophy (2018-19) as the highest wicket-taker for Tamil Nadu with 22 scalps to leading a side (Trichy Warriors) for the first time in Tamil Nadu Premier League which was followed by a decent Vijay Hazare Trophy stint (11 wickets in 7 games), he has not given much content for critics. With less than a month to go for IPL auctions, one can say that he will be on the radar of more than one franchise and is lined up for trials with a couple of teams.