IPL’s one-hit wonders: Where are they now?
The IPL has also given players who dazzled for an edition or two before receding from public memory.Updated: Apr 19, 2019 08:26 IST
The Indian Premier League is about survivors — only the fittest who have kept pace with the constant changes of Twenty20 have stayed relevant. The IPL has also given players who dazzled for an edition or two before receding from public memory. They are not complaining though, knowing many are willing to give an arm and a leg to swap places with them. And they haven’t quit on cricket either. HT spoke to a few of them about their IPL heydays, the roadblocks and their plans.
I was set for big things: Paul Valthaty
The Mumbai lad was expected to scale great heights in 2002 when he was part of the India U-19 World Cup squad. Over the next few years though, he managed just an odd game for Mumbai. Then came the IPL. “My life has been affected by injuries. Whenever I was set for big things, I got injured and it hampered my progress,” says Valthaty, who shot to fame in Kings XI Punjab colours when he smashed a match-winning 63-ball 120 against Chennai Super Kings in 2011.
T20 cricket were still a novelty then and till this day, that innings remains one of the best knocks in IPL history. He made 463 that season at a strike rate of 137 but hit a bump again. “I developed ganglion (lump in the wrist) and I couldn’t bat. The pain was so bad that at one point I couldn’t lift my cap.”
He played just six games next season and another in 2014 before injuring his knee. “It has been a roller coaster ride no doubt but then I have no regrets,” says the 35-year-old Air India employee who still plays club cricket in Mumbai and has been one of the top-scorers recently.
“Personally, I find it amusing when people look at my career with pity. To be fair, there are many others who would want to live what I have lived, those heady moments of success. After all, how many have managed to hit a match-winning century against Chennai Super Kings and rack up so many runs in a season? There are kids who aspire to play IPL and look up to me, seek guidance. That gives me satisfaction. Yes I could have played more had it not been for injuries, but frankly speaking, I am grateful for what I have achieved,” he said.
Valthaty, who also played the T20 Mumbai League last season, now divides his time between playing for his employers and coaching at the Homeground Cricket Academy in Mumbai. “But I am not done yet. I am applying to play as professional for one of the new states inducted by the BCCI,” says Valthaty.
Stories about my poverty are laughable: Kamran Khan
When the IPL was entering its middle stages last week, the left-arm seamer — once nicknamed ‘Tornado’ by then Rajasthan Royals captain and mentor Shane Warne — was using a temporary 200m track at his village of Nadwasarai, Mau district in UP to work on his fitness.
Kamran, who became a sensation after bowling a match-winning Super Over in 2009, dismissing Chris Gayle in the process, was pitchforked into the limelight after Rajasthan Royals literally picked him from the hinterlands in 2009.
He didn’t get wickets by the bagful (6 wickets in 5 matches including a 3/18) but Kamran caught Warne’s fancy with his whippy action, ability to swing and bowl yorkers. Soon however, his action was deemed suspect, prompting Rajasthan Royals to send him to Australia to work on his action. The 2010 season saw Khan get three games and the 2011 and 2012 seasons were spent with Pune Warriors playing just one game.
“I was a bit upset but what the IPL did was push me to top-level cricket. I was selected for the Uttar Pradesh side for Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s, played two games, and drafted in the state’s U-22 team but couldn’t get an opportunity,” says Kamran, who works for Sahara now.
“I struggled for cricket but I have been living well all this while. I have a house in Andheri and my family owns 3-4 ponds breeding fish in the village. I drive a BMW. In fact, when people see my status messages and profile pictures with my car, they laugh at the stories of my poverty doing the rounds.”
Rejected by Uttar Pradesh, Kamran got a No Objection Certificate (NOC) and moved to Hyderabad. He got into the U-25 team and picked 21 wickets in four matches. But then the new rules barred outsiders from playing and his journey came to a halt. He still plays local club cricket in Hyderabad. “I am trying to get through to one of the eight new states inducted by BCCI,” said Khan. He also runs a cricket academy in Bulandshahr.
You have to move on: Swapnil Asnodkar
A veteran of 88 first-class games and one of the most experienced Goa cricketers, Asnodkar spent most of the past year-and-half on the sidelines. Playing Ranji Trophy for Goa since 2001-02, he was part of the Rajasthan Royals squad from 2008 to 2011 but has been left out of the state team since December 2017.
“This season, I was not part of the Goa team. They left me out along with Shadab Jakati (left-arm spinner who represented Chennai Super Kings for a few seasons) and two others, saying they wanted to look at and invest in youngsters,” said the 35-year-old Asnodkar, who was born and raised in Porvorim.
Incidentally, the selectors’ move to make wholesale changes by keeping out veterans backfired as Goa were relegated to the Plate Group in the Ranji Trophy. Although a Ranji player for a major part of the noughties, it was only the first edition of IPL in 2008 that brought Asnodkar fame. He opened for Rajasthan Royals, racked up over 400 runs and provided blistering starts in a winning campaign.
The 2009 edition, held in South Africa, was expected to be an opportunity to cement his reputation but he got injured. “We were having fielding practice in the lead-up to the season but I injured my little finger and was out of practice for all days. It was a bad start and I couldn’t repeat the 2008 performances. I played two games in 2010, getting run-out once without even facing a ball. And then in 2011, I got one game. After that it was back to first-class cricket.”
Though he kept appearing in IPL auctions, another break didn’t come. “I was in the auctions last year but wasn’t picked. So I didn’t appear for auctions this year.”
Asnodkar feels getting axed from the Goa team was a setback but he still has hopes of playing at least three more years of first-class cricket. He playing lower division cricket and working on his fitness. “You have to move on, can’t keep thinking about the setbacks. When they dropped me from the squad for last season, it was a bit late so I couldn’t apply for other states. This time though I’ll apply for other states, especially the new ones, even as I wait for Goa selectors’ call (state body elections will see a new body).”
The success of others inspires me: Manpreet Gony
He was one of the finds in the first IPL. A well-built pacer, Gony made waves with Chennai Super Kings before playing two ODIs for India at the 2008 Asia Cup. In his first IPL, Gony picked 17 wickets in 16 matches. After three years he was picked by the now-defunct Deccan Chargers. Then came the fall.
Injuries, indifferent form, and family turmoil saw Gony falling off the radar. His stints at Deccan Chargers, Kings XI Punjab and Gujarat Lions were forgetful to say the least. A veteran of 61 first-class matches, Gony is struggling to hold his place in the Punjab team too. This year, after making a late foray, Gony featured in four first-class matches and also played some T20s. But an IPL break never came again.
“I still think I have it in me to succeed and play an IPL at least. I bowled my best at these trials but I don’t know why I was not picked,” Gony said. His recent trials were for Delhi Capitals where he appeared along with all-rounder Jagadeesha Suchith, who went on to replace the injured Harshal Patel.
Youngsters have stolen a march on him but Gony is happy more players are getting chances. “I have played alongside legends of the game in IPL. I know what it takes to succeed at this level. The success of others inspires me. I think I still have a few more years left in me. I will just keep trying,” he said.
((Additional reporting by Ashutosh Sharma))