Going into Sunday night's Indian Premier League match against the Rajasthan Royals, Shrikant Wagh — the only Maharashtrian face in the Pune Warriors India XI on their IPL debut — has sent down more than 3,000 deliveries balls in domestic cricket.
However, for the Vidarbha medium-fast bowler, the 24 balls he bowled on Sunday were more important than all his previous spells."Those four overs have helped me get recognised by those who matter. All these years I have been trying to do my best in order to take a step forward towards playing for India," Wagh, the 22-year-old, told Hindustan Times after he was adjudged Man-of-the-Match following the Warriors’ dream start.
Wagh, in fact, has a lot in common with Zaheer Khan. Just like the pace spearhead, Wagh hails from the interiors of Maharashtra. Like Zaheer, Wagh was groomed by TA Sekar and Dennis Lillee at the MRF Pace Foundation. And both are left-arm pace bowlers.
While emulating Zaheer’s feats in international cricket is Wagh’s “ultimate aim”, the mind went back to his home in Buldhana, around 300km from Nagpur. His father is an employee at the depot of the state transport department and his mother is a home-maker.
“It wasn’t possible for them to come and watch the match. But my mama (maternal uncle), who stays in Mumbai, was at the ground. I just hope that my parents will watch me in action from the stadium at some point during the IPL,” Wagh, who played a game for the Rajasthan Royals last year, said. Though he was playing only his second IPL game, Wagh didn’t appear to be overawed. “Being with the Rajasthan Royals helped a lot. I was used to being around with the big players and listening to them,” he said.