The 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) did not go according to plan for Royal Challengers Bangalore. The Virat Kohli-led side has won just two of their 13 matches this season and with just one game remaining, it is clear they will end up with the wooden spoon for the first time in the history of the tournament. However, there were some positives for RCB this season and the biggest among them was the performance of young all-rounder Pawan Negi.
The 24-year old came into this season’s IPL with a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Negi started his IPL career with Chennai Super Kings in 2012 but it took his three years to secure his spot in the playing XI. He had a good run in IPL 2015 with CSK and his 5/22 in the Champions Trophy T20 final fetched him the man-of-the-match award and his team the title. The performance earned him a spot in the India squad for that year’s Asia Cup and he made his ODI debut against UAE.
The biggest moment of his career came in the IPL 2016 auction when he became the costliest pick among the Indian players with Delhi Daredevils paying Rs 8.5 crores for his services. However, Negi was not able to do justice to his price tag and he had an extremely disappointing run in the competition with just 57 runs and one wicket from eight matches.
Not surprisingly, he was released by DD at the end of the season and he was back in the auction pool. Most experts wrote him off at the start of the auction and when RCB paid R1 crore for him, it did raise a lot of eyebrows. But, he proved his worth for his team in their very first match.
The season opener was against his old team Delhi Daredevils and Negi was handed the ball, with DD needing 19 runs off the last over. It was a bold decision by captain Shane Watson, but it paid off as the 24-year old conceded just three runs and claimed two wickets to clinch the game for his team.
He followed it up with effective batting performances against Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions and he also provided great support to leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal in the bowling department. The 24-year old was one of the few RCB players who performed consistently this season and, with 13 wickets in 11 matches, he is currently the second-highest wicket-taker for his team.
At the start of IPL 2017, most experts looked at Pawan Negi and saw a cricketer who crumbled under the pressure of the huge price tag. However, Negi has shown glimpses of his old form this season and it cannot be refuted that he was truly one of the few silver linings in RCB’s dark cloud of the season.