“Just a year back, I was seated on a couch with my mother and watching reruns from the IPL archives on TV. I always dreamt of being here and today I am here. Life can change, this is unbelievable,” Mayank Markande says hinting at his new found glory. He is the talk of the town, the boy everyone is raving about and Mumbai Indians man with the golden arm – well, for now atleast.
Even for captain Rohit Sharma he was an unknown commodity until Markande made it to the nets and impressed everyone. If his first game against Chennai Super Kings wherein he picked up the big fish MS Dhoni with an unreadable wrong’un, got Rohit gleam in surprise, an extended spell on Thursday night against Sunrisers Hyderabad only reinstated the growing faith the captain had in his youngster.
“I share a great rapport with our captain,” Markande says of Rohit Sharma. “He likes to keep things simple and keeps telling me to bowl the way I would bowl for my state. He doesn’t ask me to tinker with things too much. It works well for me and I enjoy bowling under his captaincy.”
Markande didn’t disappoint. He picked up four wickets – four genuinely good deliveries, majority being off the wrong’un that fizzed and looked unreadable. He had got Mumbai Indians back in the game, with a sniff, with a chance of registering their first win in the competition. That was not to be though.
Sunrisers Hyderabad might have clinched a last ball thriller, but it was Markande who was making all the right waves across commentary boxes, former cricketers and social media platforms. So much so that Harbhajan Singh went on to tweet in Markande’s praise – a compliment that brought a smile to the 20-year old’s face who had the opportunity to share bowling space in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
“This was the first year that I had the opportunity of meeting Harbhajan Singh. He supported me a lot when I was playing List A games for Punjab. He helped me remain in a positive frame of mind throughout and would often speak to me about bowling plans. He has immense knowledge about the game and I have managed to pick a few things from him. He is a legend of the game and I would want to meet him more often and pick his brains.”
He might be leaving everyone by surprise with his leg-spin, but not many know that bowling loopy leggies and the right wrong’uns wasn’t his first choice. It was infact - fast bowling. “I wasn’t too big on playing cricket as a child. I would just go and play for fun and try to bowl fast. Even then, I would bowl the back of the hand delivery – my googly very well.
“When I used to bowl at the nets to Reetinder Singh Sodhi, he would often find it difficult to pick me. I also didn’t have the body to bowl fast so I turned to leg-spin. It was then when Jiwanjot Singh’s father kept a keen eye on me that I turned full time to bowling leg-spin.”
And, what a decision that has proven to be. From watching all the action on TV to being a part of it, Markande knows he still has a long way to go. He is right now the top wicket-taker of the tournament and proudly wears the purple cap on his head. But, he knows this is just the beginning.
P.S. On a lighter note, like every other youngster, Markande too is social media savvy. Before the IPL he had around 2000 followers on his Instagram account. Now, it's clocked 38.8k followers. How many wickets and followers at the end of the tournament? Time will tell.