Mayank Markande with MS Dhoni
Mayank Markande (L) with MS Dhoni (IANS Photo)

BCCI selectors threw up a major surprise when they announced the India squad for the limited-overs series against Australia beginning this month. Punjab legspinner Mayank Markande earned a maiden India call-up as he featured among the 15-member squad for the two T20Is, replacing Kuldeep Yadav.

However, a look at Markande’s recent performances in domestic cricket is enough to prove why he caught the attention of MSK Prasad-led selection panel. However, he first made the headlines while making his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians, collecting the scalps of Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni and Ambati Rayudu to finish with impressive figures of 3/23. (ALSO READ: Mayank Markande – All you need to know)

“Get a national call-up is the biggest achievement in a player’s career,” Markane told The Indian Express. “To be honest I was not expecting this. I did not think I would get included the national set-up this early. I consider myself really lucky.” (ALSO READ: Five takeaways from India’s ODI squad to face Australia)

Since making his Ranji Trophy debut in the previous six months, the 21-year-old has taken 34 wickets in seven first-class matches. His career has taken massive leaps in the past one year or so. Friday was a double-delight for the leggie as before the national call-up, he had taken a five-wicket haul to spin India A to an innings win over England Lions and thus seal a 1-0 series win.

“My performances in the Ranji Trophy along with meaningful performances for India A must have been noticed by the selectors. and I am really happy that they have given me a chance to prove myself,” he said.

He added, “I’ve been working on my leg-spin since the last one year and rewards have come in form of wickets. My father never represented India due to his injury and I am happy that I will represent India and realise his dream.”

Markande has played under India vice-captain Rohit Sharma for MI and is looking forward to sharing the dressing room with the ‘legend’. “Sharing the Indian dressing room with Rohit Sharma will be special. He had motivated me a lot during the IPL. I always kept talking to him. He is a legend of the game now so I always try to learn as much as possible from him,” Markande said.

While he’s not thinking about breaking into the playing XI, Markande sure is picturing another legend keeping the wickets for him provided he makes the cut.

“As for now I am not even thinking about getting in the playing XI. But if I do then having MS Dhoni keep for me will be special,” he said.