GANDHINAGER, WNS: From standing in a long selection queue for aspiring batsmen at the iconic Shivaji Park Gymkhana to shining on his IPL debut as a pacer, Mumbai rookie Tushar Deshpande has come a long way.
The 25-year-old bowler held his nerve to help fashion a 13-run victory for Delhi Capitals against Rajasthan Royals on Wednesday night.
“In 2007, I along with three-four boys had gone for selection for BPL loop academy of Shivaji Park Gymkhana from Kalyan. There was a big queue for batsmen, around 40-45 players were lined up and 20-25 batsmen were padded up.
“… And the bowler line had only 15-20 aspirants. It was around 3.30 PM and the selection was till 6-6.30.
“I thought with so many players lined up for batting, I won’t get a chance, but at the same time I was not keen to return empty handed and hence I stood in the bowler’s line,” Deshpande recalled on Marathi chat show ‘Coffee, Cricket Aani Barach Kaahi’.
The speedster, who claimed figures of 2-37 from his four overs on his IPL debut, has also played a part in Mumbai winning its first Vijay Hazare Trophy title in more than a decade.
Continuing about the selection trial, he added, “Till then no one had told me that I bowl quicker than the average boys. The bowler line moved fast, and after my number came, I fortunately got the new ball.
“I marked the run-up and bowled a ball. It was a superb banana out-swing and even kicked after landing. Paddy sir (Padmakar Shivalkar) said: ‘well bowled, bowl the same ball again’.
“I didn’t even know who he was, but I bowled again, bowled 6-7 balls and was shortlisted,” he recalled.
Deshpande has been training with his Delhi Capitals captain Shreyas Iyer since childhood at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana.
“The same process went on for the second and third day. After Paddy sir and Sandesh Kawle sir gave me confidence, I decided to play for the Gymkhana and become a pacer,” he quipped.
Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) apex council member Khodadad Yazdegardi remembered how despite suffering a breakdown during a police shield game, Deshpande came back strongly.
“A year before last he was called for trials with Kings XI Punjab. But in two weeks’ time the Ranji season was starting. I got a call from him saying he won’t be going for the trails as Ranji was starting and he would like to play the police shield game.
“He played that game, but while bowling broke down, and was out for a month. But he always kept faith in himself that he would recover and play again. He is mentally very strong,” Khodadad, who is an office-bearer of Parsee Gymkhana, told PTI.
Deshpande moved to the Parsee Gymkhana in 2016, after playing for Shivaji Park Gymkhana.