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Not lightening quick, but can spring a surprise

Karnataka’s Abhimanyu Mithun comes into the India squad for the first Test against South Africa with the reputation of being fast, but the word needs to put into perspective before he steps up to international cricket.

cricket Updated: Jan 29, 2010 00:05 IST

Karnataka’s Abhimanyu Mithun comes into the India squad for the first Test against South Africa with the reputation of being fast, but the word needs to put into perspective before he steps up to international cricket.

The 20-year-old is not fast like Dale Steyn or Morne Morkel. The speed gun set up by telecasters in the few televised matches Mithun has played in his debut season, put him in the 130-135 kmph bracket — fast enough in the domestic circuit but not frightening. Ajit Agarkar, for example, is faster. However, it is not for nothing that Rahul Dravid, as Karnataka captain, picked Mithun from the nets and put him in the XI before this season’s Ranji Trophy.

Mithun has the ability to hurry batsmen now and then, especially when he pitches the ball up. Mumbai will testify to that having lost nine wickets to Mithun in the Ranji final, including six in the second innings. It was quite a sight when Omkar Khanvilkar (twice) and Abhishek Nayar were sent back with deliveries that were fast, straight and full.

Mithun’s pace rarely drops even towards the end of a long spell. It means his average speed is higher than most Indian bowlers, which should help him in international cricket.

Tall and sturdy, Mithun also extracts good bounce, sometimes from an awkward length. He swings the new ball both ways and reverses it when it gets older, often going wide off the crease when he wants to curve one into the batsman.

Mithun did not expect a call-up so soon. “I thought I will get to play some practice matches, but I learnt during lunch (in the South-Central Duleep Trophy semifinal) that I have been picked, so I am happy,” he told HT.

Mithun was an immediate success in the Ranji Trophy. International cricket will be far tougher, but he seems ready.