CHENNAI: “I was a little nervous when I first met my heroes in the Tamil Nadu dressing room,” says B Sai Sudharsan about the experience with the state’s senior team during the 2021 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. “They made me feel welcomed and helped me out throughout the season,” adds the 20-year-old, who has had a dream 2021 and finished the year with a maiden Ranji selection.
Sudharsan is a household name in Chennai cricketing circles. He was making the right noises, rising through age-group cricket at a rampant pace. In 2019, he was selected for the U-19 Challengers and went on to win the title with India A. When the pandemic struck, the left-hander from Chennai made the most of the time he had in hand to prepare for the next challenge.
By the time the 2021 Tamil Nadu Premier League began, he was ready. Batting at No. 3 for Kovai Kings, Sudharsan smashed 358 runs in 8 innings at a strike rate of 143.77, finishing as the second highest run scorer. “I was waiting for an opportunity to play in the TNPL. I worked on my physical fitness a lot and it made me confident to express myself,” he said.
But the southpaw was hungry for more. He continued his form in the Raja of Palayampatti Shield and VAP Trophy, scoring 494 runs in the latter — the highest this season — at 82.33 for Jolly Rovers CC in the city’s first-division league. In the Palayampatti Shield, he amassed 210 runs in four matches.
Calling him a good investment for the future, Tamil Nadu men’s head coach M Venkataramana said, “he has shown his material during the TNPL and continued with the league performance in the VAP Trophy, which earned him a place in the SMAT squad. He stands out among the players of his age.”
Sudharsan put up a good show in SMAT, which led to his List-A debut. Crediting the team management and senior players in the side, he said, ”all the players were very friendly. They backed me to open the batting in Vijay Hazare. It gave me a lot of confidence.”
With the senior pros not available, Tamil Nadu has named a young squad for Ranji Trophy and Sudharsan is one among them. “It’s a big stage. This is my first time and I am very excited about it,” he said about the call-up. Venkataramana said that the left-hander has the potential to play long innings, adding, “being a left-hander at the top of the innings will make a big difference.”
Currently training with the squad, Sudharsan wants to shift his mindset to the number of overs he’d want to play in the four-day format and make the most of every opportunity. If the promise he has shown is anything to go by, the Chennai youngster is likely to make the right noises and his name will be doing the rounds more often from now on .