Saturday, 16 June, 2007

Knocking hard at selectors’ doors

Photo: Anand Chaini
B D Narayankar

PUNE: He is an inexplicable talent. He rushes back to his mark near the boundary line. Next you see him darting in from a spot where spinners would have begun. That’s left-arm pacer Samad Fallah for you – a maverick and fun-loving cricketer, who enjoys just doing anything like the Pakistani great Wasim Akram.

As he is making batsmen busy adjusting their game in the middle, he also is making Maharashtra selectors sit up to take note of his performance in this year’s MCA League Tournament. He has bagged 58 wickets so far and there are a couple of matches to go to improve his statistics further.

Taking time-off during a league match, Samad told Herald he was in fine knick and getting wickets regularly. “I am, however, not thinking of my selection to the Maharashtra Ranji squad. I have a long way to go,” he said.

Samad began his successful stint in the professional cricket in 2005 and whatever chances he got for Poona Club, he proved his mettle. He even once thought of quitting the game as nothing good was happening to him and his bowling.

That’s when he was lucky enough to meet Pakistan’s cricket legend Wasim Akram, who happened to be in the city for a public event. “Akram gave me important tips on the art of bowling – how to hold the ball, swing and bowl yorkers. He also showed some interesting video footage of how he got rid off Allan Lamb in 1992 World Cup. He also taught me reverse swinging,” Samad said.

The interaction paid off and Samad came back with a bang this season, hauling 58 wickets in nine matches, a record quite enough to break into the higher echelons of the game. What is even more astonishing is that he has bagged five wickets in a match eight times and an hat-trick to his credit against Dhule.

Poona Club coach Pradeep Ingle said Samad was a tremendous prospect and stood a very good chance to break into the Maharashtra Ranji team. “If Subash Ranjane could get into Maharashtra squad taking 67 wickets in his days, why not Samad,” he reasoned.

What was striking about Samad was he gave 100 per cent for the team whenever he bowled for the club, Pradeep said.

Lot of work has undergone to prepare Samad. “He was raw and was concentrating more on bowling fast. I worked on his run up and bowling alignment to send balls in right areas,” he said.

Crazy one may feel. Ask him who is his favorite cricketer, he says, “Brian Lara.” An unpredictable answer just like his bowling run up.

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