UP's left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar ready for Sri Lanka Test | Crickit

UP's left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar ready for Sri Lanka Test

Feb 19, 2022 11:26 PM IST

Saurabh Kumar will do well on Indian tracks that offer turn and bounce according to state coach Gyanendra Pandey

Uttar Pradesh's Saurabh Kumar, who has been selected for the Test series against Sri Lanka, is a traditional left-arm spinner who gives deliveries loop and lets the ball do its job after hitting the turf. Confident that his guile will eventually fox batters, he doesn't mind being hit for a few boundaries and sixes.

Saurabh Kumar said loop and spin are his key weapons.(Getty )
Saurabh Kumar said loop and spin are his key weapons.(Getty )

Kumar says he would love to surprise the Sri Lanka batters if he gets a chance to bowl for India in the two-Test series, starting March 4. "It's a big opportunity for me," said Kumar on his maiden Test call on Saturday evening.

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Kumar said loop and spin are his key weapons. "I have learnt the finer points of left-arm spin bowling from the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi Sir and try to follow his style. I never like to bowl the quick one or the wrong one," said Kumar, who is from Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh, but now lives in New Delhi.

The son of a retired junior engineer in All India Radio, Kumar is following the passion of his father Ramesh Chand. "My dad is my biggest inspiration and whatever I’m today is because of my father, who always stood like a rock behind me," said Kumar, who learnt the basics at Sunita Sharma’s academy in New Delhi.

Kumar got the news of his selection at stumps on the third day of the Uttar Pradesh-Vidarbha Ranji Trophy match in Gurugram on Saturday.

"It was altogether a different experience for me when I got to bowl to the Team India batters at the nets during the tour of South Africa. I learnt many things there and I am sure to use all those lessons if I get a chance to bowl to the Lankan batters."

Kumar's journey is a lesson for many. Despite playing for the junior state side, he could not break through to the Ranji Trophy team as the side was full of seniors. So, he played a season (2014-15) for Services before moving back to his home state.

As soon as he made it to the UP squad, he took 10 wickets in his first game against Gujarat in 2015-16. There was no looking back thereafter. He is also competent with the bat, having scored two first-class hundreds and eight fifties for an average of 29.11.

In the previous Ranji season, 2019-20, Kumar took 44 wickets at 21.09. His tally in 2018-19 was 51. He also bagged 19 wickets in the Duleep Trophy. These performances got him picked for the India A tour of South Africa last year.

"With every year, I have been improving my bowling. After the India A tour to South Africa last year, I was sure of getting a call," said Kumar.

Kumar, who has been playing cricket since the age of 16, made his first-class debut against Himachal Pradesh for Services in 2014. He has played 46 first-class matches in which he has taken 196 wickets along with scoring 1572 runs.

He has taken five wickets in an innings 16 times and 10 or more wickets in a match six times. His best performance in an innings is 7/32 and best performance in a match is 14/65. He has also scored two centuries and eight half-centuries with his highest score being 133 runs.

In List A cricket, Kumar has 37 wickets and 173 runs in 25 matches. In T20s, he has scored 148 runs in 33 matches and taken 24 wickets. He also was a member of the Punjab Kings team in the 2021 IPL but didn’t get a game.

"Kumar belongs to the old school of left-arm spin bowling and is going to be quite effective against Sri Lankan batters on Indian soil where ball gets good turn with bounce," said former UP captain and coach Gyanendra Pandey.

"It's good to see two spinners Saurabh Kumar and Kuldeep Yadav together in Indian Test squad. Certainly the two would inspire other spinners from UP to work hard to stake their claim for a berth in the national squad," he said.

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