The famous Hindi proverb, “Ghar ka bhedi Lanka dhaaye” (a small leak will sink a great ship) fits best on Railways pacer Deepak Bansal.
Until February 2016, Ludhiana-based Bansal represented Punjab during the 2015-16 domestic season. Eight months later, Bansal joined employers Railways. He wouldn’t have hoped to face Punjab in his very first match.
But as luck had it, Bansal was picked against Punjab and he dented the home side by picking two wickets on Day Two. Punjab ended the day on 154/4 after Railways posted 331 in the first innings.
Bansal bowled well with the new ball on a helpful Palam wicket and sent home opener Manan Vohra and India batsman Mandeep Singh. While Vohra was caught on the back foot and edged an outgoing delivery, Mandeep was castled with an inswinger. Bansal’s accurate spell meant that Punjab had a similar start as Railways, but Uday Kaul (59*) and Gurkeerat Mann (66*) held fort and ensured Punjab reached 154/4 at stumps.
For Bansal, joining Railways was always an option for last three years. He was employed by Railways after he cleared a trial in Varanasi. “On the insistence of former Punjab skipper Ankur Kakkar and former India pacer Harwinder Singh, I went to Varanasi to try my luck at Railways. I did well and was selected. Since three years, I was employed by Railways but was not on salary as I was not working for them. I preferred playing for Punjab and thought I was doing really well,” said the left-arm seamer.
Having performed well for Punjab last season, Bansal was convinced by the Railways management to join the side. And how did it happen? Answer: at the Inter-Railways tournament, where the 26-year-old impressed with 14 wickets in just 6 matches.
“With such a performance I was offered a position in the Railways side. I asked them whether I will get to play the entire season as I was doing really well for Punjab and didn’t want to waste any opportunity. But they ensured me that if I perform well, I will get to play,” he said.
Bansal might not generate express pace but he relied on swing to trouble his previous teammates. So was it his knowledge of the weaknesses of the Punjab batsmen help him or the favourable wicket? Actually both. “Even though I know the weaknesses of the batsmen, I was more focused to seek help from the wicket. The new ball did pretty well for both Punjab and us. The wickets that I got were off good balls,” Bansal said.
While he certainly left an impression in the Railways camp, he had to endure a lot of friendly banter as a batsman in the middle. Bansal remained not out on 15 and played 39 balls. “My friends from Punjab said, “saade wallon taan kadi run ni bannaye tu” (you never scored for us). That was very nice,” Bansal said.
With former India all-rounder JP Yadav at the helm of the Railways, Bansal said his experience is helpful. “The experience he has as a player helps us to perform in different conditions. It is going to be a great learning,” Bansal said.