Wednesday, 13 June, 2007

Growing on Pace Guru Lilee's laps

Photo: Mukund Bhute
B D Narayankar

PUNE: Just a season ago, he was struggling with his action and run up and could not leave much of his mark in the U-19 MCA League Series. This season, he already has 29 wickets in his kitty in eight matches. Ask him how the change came about? Pat comes the reply: “It’s because of my idol and Pace Guru Dennis Lilee who gave important tips during the MRF Pace Foundation training camp at Chennai.”

Compared to Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Karnataka, which gave good pacemen for India in the last decade, Maharashtra always had given world-class batsmen. Boys like Ninad Choudhari have everything in them to make Maharashtra proud in pace attack. Maharashtra Cricket Association should, however, groom them carefully.

Having a beautiful high-arm action, six-footed and broad-shouldered Ninad reels of the balls at 130 mph pace consistently. He even had ex-Maharashtra paceman Pandurang Salgaonkar applauding his bowling. And having come from Salgoankar, known for his on-field battle with batting legend Sunil Gavaskar, would have done wonders for the Teenage Express.

“Before attending the pace academy, I was pretty raw, focusing more on speed. I also had problem with my action and run up. My arm was not coming from the top while delivering the ball. Lilee shaped me up in these areas. He gave tips on fitness too,” Ninad told Maharashtra Herald in an interview.

Apart from Lilee, former test bowlers T A Shekhar, Javagal Srinath and Laxmipathy Balaji gave advice on how to swing the ball of the pitch and, in the air. “Chances are more to get the batsmen out with swinging balls,” the Jalgaon lad said.

When Ninad came out of the pace academy, he was a different bowler altogether. He has picked up 29 wickets and feeling lot better and confident now.

Asked whether he believed in intimitading tactics as applied by Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee, Ninad said: “They look gorgeous when they run up to the batsmen and deliver 150 mph express delivery consistently. But they struggle to get wickets match after match. Their strike rate is lower than Imran Khan and Lilee. I prefer aping these two great bowlers. I like the attitude of Imran and Lilee’s zeal to pick wickets.”

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