MUMBAI: Mumbai Indians' talent scouts seem to have found a gem in rookie leg spinner Mayank Markande, who impressed one and all in the IPL opener against arch-rivals Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium here last evening.
Markande scalped 3 for 23 and his prize wicket of rival skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who was caught plumb in front going back to a googly, was one of the highlights of the game before Dwayne Bravo pulled the rug from under MI's feet with his 30-ball 68 blitz.
MI head coach Mahela Jayawardene was among many who were bowled over by the talent exhibited by the debutant 20-year-old from Bathinda in Punjab who had taken 15 wickets in 10 limited over games in the Vijay Hazare (50-over) and Syed Mushtaq Ali (20-over) tournaments of BCCI coming into the IPL.
"I thought he bowled brilliantly, we backed him when we saw him first at our camp. We knew that he was special. He came for two trial games for us, both him and (Rahul) Chahar," Jayawardene said.
"We backed our youngsters. We knew that this is the year we had to do that. The stadium was packed against CSK and he bowled well, I am pleased for him," he said.
His accuracy was the one thing that was singled out by former Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardene.
"I think it is the accuracy. He is quite accurate and probably a bit different to a normal leg-spinner as well. The way he delivers the ball, the control he has with his variations," he said.
"And he is very confident for a guy who has not played much T20 cricket. His attitude is great and we want to back those guys, give them an opportunity and see what happens," gushed Jayawardene about MI's new find.