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Zeeshan Ansari, 17-year-old leggie, could make Ranji debut for Uttar Pradesh

Zeeshan Ansari, the 17-year-old legspinner who played two matches for India in the U-19 World Cup in 2016, is in line to make his debut for Uttar Pradesh in the opening game of the Ranji Trophy against Railways.

cricket Updated: Oct 05, 2017 09:45 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Ranji Trophy,Ranji Trophy 2017/18,Uttar Pradesh
Zeeshan Ansari, who had a good run in the Buchi Babu tournament, is likely to make his debut for Uttar Pradesh in the opening game of the Ranji Trophy against Railways. (HT Photo)

Zeeshan Ansari, 17-year-old legspinner from Uttar Pradesh, kept bowling tirelessly at the nets on Wednesday afternoon. His skills got the attention of many people who were watching him at the Ekana international cricket stadium.

Ansari kept toying with almost all the batsmen. Even skipper Suresh Raina and Akshdeep Nath played his deliveries cautiously. Chief coach Mritunjay Tripathi and bowling coach Ashish Winston Zaidi kept a close eye on his action and the loop with which he enticed batsmen.

Junior India selector Gyanendra Pandey said: “Leg spinners are always match winners. The red-clay pitch here would be the best suited to Zeeshan, who gives his deliveries a lot of air. He is not afraid to be hit for fours and sixes.”

Gyanendra, who had selected Lucknow’s Zeeshan for the under-19 World Cup squad last year, hoped the bowler would be a match-winner for the side in the season opener against Railways starting on Thursday.

Zeeshan looks certain to make his Ranji Trophy debut as Piyush Chawla has moved to Gujarat and Kuldeep Yadav is on national duty.

“Ranji Trophy is a different ball game. One has to work hard to succeed at this level,” said Pandey.

Team manager Sanjiv Jakhmola too seemed impressed with Zeeshan’s bowling. “Within a few years, he has learnt to grip the ball well. I saw him at the under-19 level, but he is a mature bowler now,” added Jakhmola.

Zeeshan, who did well with bat and ball in just two Under-19 World Cup matches last year, excelled in the Buchi Babu cricket tournament last month and picked up 13 wickets. In seven matches of the under-19 tournament in 2014-15, Zeeshan bagged 44 wickets.

His wickets tally in under-23 was 48, including 18 in 2014-15 and 30 in 2016-17. Still, he was omitted from the under-19 squad last season.

Zeeshan, who bagged his maiden five-wicket haul against Afghanistan in 2015, hails from a family of tailors. His father runs a shop at IT College crossing in Lucknow. “The boy struggled a lot but never lost the courage to fight the odds. He (Zeeshan) has a passion for sport. He took up cricket at the age of 10 and earned a name for himself even in school cricket,” said Kanhaya Lal, a close family friend.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 09:44 IST