By Nishad Pai Vaidya
In part one of the series on Superb Debuts we revisited some of the fine performances on maiden Test appearance in 2011. In part two, we shall look at some more tyros making their debuts this year who made an immediate impact:
1. Elias Sunny, 6 for 94, Bangladesh vs West Indies at Chittagong
A land that is known for producing left-arm spinners, it was no surprise that Bangladesh’s Elias Sunny picked up the trade of the likes of Enamul Haque, Mohammad Rafique, Abdur Razzak, Shakib Al Hasan, to name a few. Bangladesh scored 350 in their first innings and were looking to put pressure on the touring West Indians. Pressure was an understatement as the debutant broke the back of the Caribbean batting. Six of the top seven fell to Sunny as he helped Bangladesh take a 100-plus run lead. The wicket of Shivnarine Chanderpaul was a major blow as he sent back the West Indian anchor. Rain marred the Test, but Sunny rose to the occasion and made his name count.
2. Nathan Lyon, 5 for 34, Australia vs Sri Lanka at Galle
Australia’s musical chairs policy in the spin department since Shane Warne’s retirement has drawn a lot of flak and one felt that Lyon would be another “in and out spinner” when he was named in their Test squad for Sri Lanka. However, the one-time curator at Adelaide dispelled all doubts by dominating Sri Lankan batsmen on their own turf. He picked up a wicket with his very first ball in Test cricket when the great Kumar Sangakkara erred in reading a flighted delivery and edged it to slip. He then dismissed Angelo Mathews and cleaned up the entire tail to help Australia restrict the hosts to 105 and in the process take a huge lead. Australia went on to win the game and the series.
3. Praveen Kumar, match haul of 6 for 80, India vs West Indies at Kingston
Kingston was the venue where Praveen Kumar broke the “one-day player” stereotype surrounding him as he delivered crucial blows to help India secure a victory. Rahul Dravid’s effort with the bat may have been the highlight of this game but one cannot take anything away from Praveen’s great work. His most crucial contribution came in the second innings when India were defending a target of 326. His movement and military medium pace was a handful on the tricky surface. Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo were threatening to get into their zone when Praveen nailed them in quick succession with his nagging pace to tilt the match completely in India’s favor.
4. Devendra Bishoo, 4 for 68, West Indies vs Pakistan at Guyana
The leg-spinner had been quite a revelation during the World Cup and a Test debut was on the cards when Pakistan visited the Caribbean in May. It was a low-scoring affair at the Providence as West Indies won their first Test in two years. Bishoo’s four wicket haul in the first innings was the major factor in West Indies taking a decent lead. He broke the back of the middle order as he sent back Misbah ul-Haq, Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq. This performance provided great support to the fast bowling attack and set the platform for the batsmen to build a strong target.
5. Aizaz Cheema, match haul of 8 for 103, vs Zimbabwe at Bulawayo
Pakistan’s fast bowling factory’s new product Aizaz Cheema was fantastic on his Test debut in Bulawayo. In the first innings as Tino Mawoyo was headstrong in frustrating the tourists, Cheema cleaned up the entire tail and reduced Pakistan’s agony. Having secured a lead just over 50, it was important to dismiss the hosts quickly in the second innings and Cheema started his prowl from the top of the Zimbabwean ranks. His subtle incoming deliveries got the better of Hamilton Masakadza and Vusi Sibanda as they were dismissed cheaply. The fighting Tatenda Taibu was packed off as Cheema capitalised on his intent on taking a single. Taibu was the lone surviving batsman and he was looking for a single off the last delivery of the over and Cheema bowled wider than usual with slips in place. The Zimbabwean stumper managed to send it down his Pakistani counterpart’s gloves that effectively ended the hosts’ resistance. A paltry target of 88 was no task for the Pakistani batsmen as the romped home with no real worries.
6. Doug Bracewell, 5 for 85, New Zealand vs Zimbabwe at Bulawayo:
The latest cricketing member of the Bracewell family rose to the occasion when his team needed inspiration against a defiant home side. Zimbabwe needed a huge 366 to win and had come out with intent to chase the total. He made initial inroads by getting Sibanda and Masakadza before Brendan Taylor and Tatenda Taibu threatened to take the game away. Even when they were dismissed, New Zealand didn’t have too many to defend. The youngster kept chipping in at regular intervals to pack the tail and help New Zealand seal the deal.
(Nishad Pai Vaidya, a 20-year-old law student, is a club and college-level cricketer. His teachers always complain, “He knows the stats and facts of cricket more than the subjects we teach him.")