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Pravin Tambe scaled dizzying heights by taking a hat-trick in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. Bharath Ramaraj looks back at the success of the 42-year old veteran spinner.
At 41, most cricketers would have walked into the sunset of their careers. Now, that is the time for former cricketers to share their expert analysis on the game. But for Pravin Tambe, life begins after 41. He made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut in 2013 and hasn’t looked back since then. He had a successful Champions League T20 last year, and has gone one step further in this year’s IPL by claiming a hat-trick in the game against Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Ahmadabad.
Here was a cricketer who started his career as a fast bowler and represented Orient Shipping, Shivaji Park Gymkhana as well as Liverpool League cricket in England. Suddenly, from nowhere, during the selection trials of the Rajasthan Royals (RR) in Jaipur, he impressed Rahul Dravid with the way he bowled in practice games. Tambe once said, “He [Dravid] supported me a lot and gave me all the confidence needed. For him it didn’t matter how old I am, he believed in my bowling and it helped me to deliver for the [Rajasthan] Royals.”
In the game played against Kolkata in IPL 7, the opposition batsmen, Robin Uthappa and Gautam Gambhir, seemed to be cruising towards a facile win. But from nowhere, Shane Watson, followed by Tambe, triggered a collapse and Rajasthan won a humdinger of a contest.
Even after Watson snared two wickets, Kolkata was in the hunt. But the door was shut on Kolkata’s batsmen by Tambe. Manish Pandey committed hara-kiri by blindly dancing down the wicket, only for the bowler to fire it down the leg-side and get him stumped. Yusuf Pathan lobbed a simple catch back to the bowler to take a long walk back to the pavilion. Then the dangerous Ryan Ten Doeschate was trapped by a full delivery that hit is toe on the full and was trapped leg-before-wicket (LBW).
It can be argued that Kolkata’s batsmen got out to soft dismissals. However, a good leg-spinner is the one who deceives the batsman in the air and tempts him to the deadly trap like a temptress. Tambe has certainly shown that in his brief career in the IPL. And of course, a bowler doesn’t get a hat-trick every day. In fact most bowlers go all their lives without one. So, Tambe deserves full credit for his spellbinding performance.
It is hard to predict the future of any cricketer. But the 42-year old Tambe bowls with the zest and industrious stamina of a 22-year old. He has a box of tricks to bank upon, and an especially fine flipper up his sleeve. To make it even better for him, modern day batsmen seem to struggle to pick a leg-spinner’s variations and that should help Tambe to chart his way to a successful career despite being 42.
Tambe’s fabled story tells us that if you toil away and shed blood, sweat, and tears, you’re bound to climb up the ladder and attain the summit of success. You just need that single-minded focus and sheer willpower to make things happen.
(Bharath Ramaraj, an MBA in marketing, eats, drinks and sleeps cricket. He has played at school and college-level, and now channelises his passion for the game by writing about it)
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