Manvinder Bisla catches the eye by playing the white knight for KKR

With the knock, Manvinder Bisla has not only earned a reputation as a quality player but also proved that he has the temperament to succeed © AFP

Manvinder Bisla’s sizzling knock of 89 off 48 deliveries helped Kolkata Knight Riders clinch their maiden Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy. Nishad Pai Vaidya traces his journey from Under-19 cricket to IPL 2012 final.


The knights in the golden armour have finally clinched the coveted Indian Premier League (IPL) trophy after five long years. Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) dethroned defending champions Chennai Super Kings in their own den with a spirited run-chase – one that had copious excitement and a few heart-stopping moments. KKR’s pre-final hopes revolved around the two men who powered them into the title clash – Gautam Gambhir and Sunil Narine. But it was the relatively unknown Mavinder Bisla who played the innings of his life.


Throughout the season, KKR’s batting relied heavily on Gambhir – the only Kolkata batsman who showed consistency. The others struggled to maintain the tempo and were good only in patches. Gambhir is a big-match player and has shown brilliant temperament under extreme pressure. When he was dismissed in the first over of the run-chase in the final, not many would have put their money on Kolkata. The men in the centre were Jacques Kallis – the world’s finest all-rounder who had struggled throughout the season – and Bisla. The latter made the eleven only because of an injury to Laxmipathy Balaji and the need to strike the right balance.


With the knock, Bisla has not only earned a reputation as a quality player but also proved that he has the temperament to succeed on the big occasion. After being included for the final and watching his captain Gambhir getting out, the pressure on him would have been immense. However, he approached the onerous task with unhurried elegance, playing classy cricketing shots. It was a sight for sore eyes to see essay the lofted shots straight down the ground and through the covers.


With the man-of the match winning 89 off 48 deliveries in Sunday’s final, Bisla has given ample evidence that he can wield his willow in the shortest format. The innings will force people to watch him with great interest in future.


Bisla burst on to the scene in the year 2000 in the Cooch-Behar Trophy – a domestic under-19 tournament in India. Playing for Haryana U-19s, he plundered two double hundreds and a century to take his team into the final. That performance fast-tracked his selection into the India U-19 side against the touring England U-19 the following year. He continued to maintain consistency in age group cricket and was picked for the ICC U-19 World Cup 2002.


Interestingly, Bisla bowled a bit of medium-pace and was used by India U-19. In 13 games for the India U-19s, he took seven wickets at an average of 23.86. More importantly, he scored 494 runs at an average of 41.16, stoking three fifties and a century. Over the years, he has given up bowling and has donned the wicket-keeping gloves.


In 2003, Bisla was picked for an India Emerging Players side for a tournament in Sri Lanka and failed to score a run in his two outings there. Coincidentally, that Indian team was also captained by Gautam Gambhir.


Despite showing great promise at the U-19 level, Bisla’s career hasn’t panned out the way one would have thought. He made his first-class debut (Haryana) in November 2002, but has played only 41 games since then. He has played only 33 List-A games since his debut in 2003. This clearly indicates that he hasn’t established himself at the domestic level. He changed states in 2003-04 as he moved to Himachal Pradesh from Haryana.  In fact, he last played domestic cricket since the 2010-11 season. He had briefly moved to Jammu and Kashmir for the 2009-10 season, but returned to Himachal Pradesh the following year.


The IPL has given Bisla a chance to make a name and he had shown glimpses of his talent before the final. He was a part of the victorious Deccan Chargers team that lifted the IPL 2009. However, his first exposure in the IPL was in the year 2010 when he played for the Kings XI Punjab. In his second game, he smashed 75 off 51 balls. It was a disastrous season for Punjab and Bisla didn’t do much apart from that knock. The Kolkata Knight Riders picked him for the 2011 season. In two years with the franchise, he made sporadic appearances and hasn’t established himself in the team. The whirlwind display in the final promises to change things big time as some of the domestic teams may be interested in him.


Paul Valthaty was picked by Himachal Pradesh at the back of his success in the IPL 2011. He took Bisla’s opening spot in that team, but flattered to deceive. It is now Bisla’s chance to push his case for a domestic career. The question is: Will Himachal Pradesh take him back or he would have to travel elsewhere?


(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a club-level cricketer with an analytic mind and a sharp eye. It was this sharpness which spotted a wrong replay in IPL4 resulting in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. Some of his analytical pieces have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. Nishad can also be followed on Twitter)