Cricket News By TODAYLIVESCORE.INFO - Pandit's advice, improved fitness and the evolution of Avesh Khan. Avesh Khan stunned Mumbai Indians with figures of 4-0-15-3.
Avesh Khan stunned Mumbai Indians with figures of 4-0-15-3.
Ahead of the Indian leg of IPL 2021, Avesh Khan had bought a blue night suit with prints of yellow tractors, possibly from Bob the Builder's collection. Even as many suspected that he wore the suit around in the team hotel as a lucky charm while his fortunes shined in the tournament, his Delhi Capitals teammates didn't waste the opportunity to mock his dressing sense. He didn't mind being the joker in the pack though. “As long as it's making people around me smile,” he told Axar Patel in the franchise's official YouTube show.
Avesh is comfortable in his skin these days, an attribute that is most striking about him for those who have observed him through his growing up years.
Much has changed in Avesh's personality over the last two years. Soon after the first national lockdown had ended last year and cricket training resumed, one of Chandrakant Pandit's early tasks as Madhya Pradesh's head coach was to tear down the young pacer's brimming ego.
Pandit laughs and says, “It was important to ensure that no individual felt bigger than the team”.
Avesh, hailing from a humble background, was the big cricketing find for a state that has underdelivered players to the national team for several decades. Son of a paan-seller, the terror of Avesh's pace was noticed even at the Under-14 level. His rise was meteoric and he went on to represent India at the 2016 Under-19 World Cup, where despite returning as the highest wicket-taker for the team and forging a fine partnership with Khaleel Ahmed, India lost in the final and Avesh was left crying inconsolably in the arms of his bowling partner.
In the big league, however, he had gone awry. While his pace was a big pull for teams to invest in him, his erratic channels of operation had made him inconsistent. Sensational on good days, ordinary on others – at a time when India's pace pool was widening. By 2018, Khaleel too made his national debut and remained in contention for a place in the 2019 senior world cup, while Avesh's career despite some terrific spells in domestic cricket hadn't taken flight.
There were two primary reasons for Avesh's inability to rise as quickly – his lack of effort in improving his fitness and the indecisiveness during his run-up. “Avesh has always been a keen learner,” Pandit says. “But the issue with him was that he would have a plan when he was at his bowling mark, and that would change when he was running in to bowl. I kept stressing on the need to not change his plan midway because when you're running in, you need your mind and body to be in sync.”
That one simple change suggested by Pandit has worked wonders for him, and he is catching up on the list of highest wicket-takers in IPL 2021. Recently, while explaining his practice process for the slow wickets in UAE, Avesh had said, “If I've to bowl a yorker, I've to bowl a yorker. It doesn't matter what the pitch is. Similarly for hard length. My practice revolves around just getting the execution right.”
The confidence gained through the clarity in his game plan has been a pleasant change in his personality for Sanjay Jagdale, the former president of MPCA, who had first spotted him in a junior selection trial. “He is a lot calmer now, with a bit of his aggression toned down. After spending time in the IPL and the Indian setup with more established players around, he has even started taking his fitness training a lot more seriously – a key area where he was slacking.”
Multiple injuries too played their part in breaking Avesh's rise, the last of them being a finger injury while fielding in a warm-up match ahead of the Test series against England this year. Jagdale believe if he maintains his hunger to learn and improve, a national cap isn't too far away for him, but Pandit carries a word of caution for him at all times.
“As a young bowler, it is natural for you to believe that you can do everything,” Pandit says. “It's important to constantly back him in his strengths and give him the confidence to stick to that.
“There are days when he gets carried away with a good performance, He needs a reminder every now and then, that ‘it's just one day where you've performed well. You don't need to be celebrating the next day as well. The expectations are high, so you need to become a better bowler the next day.”
Since their first meeting, the level of trust between the coach and his ward has improved drastically, with the latter reaping benefits of the former's advice. However, it remains to be seen if Avesh can hold his celebration past Saturday evening.