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It was a pleasant surprise: Dhawal

After stumps on the penultimate day of the Duleep Trophy final in Chennai, Dhawal Kulkarni, who was then one short of 50 wickets in his maiden first class season, had lost all hope of making it to the Indian team for New Zealand.

cricket Updated: Feb 14, 2009 13:09 IST
G Krishnan

After stumps on the penultimate day of the Duleep Trophy final in Chennai, Dhawal Kulkarni, who was then one short of 50 wickets in his maiden first class season, had lost all hope of making it to the Indian team for New Zealand.

"The pitch was slow. I stand no chance for New Zealand as I did not take any wickets in this match," a dejected Kulkarni had told this reporter then.

But, on Friday, it did not matter. Kulkarni was in for a pleasant surprise when he saw his name in the Test squad for New Zealand.

"I didn't expect the call so early. I did take some wickets this season and there was an outside chance," Kulkarni told the Hindustan Times on Friday. "Now that the selectors have given me an opportunity to represent the country, I will try to grab it."

The 20-year-old right-arm medium-pacer is not express pace. He clocks between 120 and 130 kmph and has earned a majority of his wickets by persisting with a disciplined line and length, rarely straying outside off stump.

Kulkarni had a dream start to his Ranji career, picking up five wickets against Rajasthan in his first match at the Brabourne Stadium. "I got into a rhythm in the first match and ended up with nine wickets. I set it as a benchmark for the rest of the season. The target was five wickets every match."

Kulkarni finished as the highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy with 42 wickets in nine games, including four bags of five or more wickets. The icing on the cake was the five-for in the final.

One known to excel when conditions suit seamers, Kulkarni produced his best effort on a batsman-friendly pitch against Hyderabad. He took a career best seven for 50 to lead Mumbai to victory.

Kulkarni picked up the nuances of fast bowling at the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai and also went to Cricket Australia's Centre of Excellence last year following his impressive show in the IPL for Mumbai where he snared 11 wickets in 10 matches.