East Zone players and support staff with the Duleep Trophy, on Thursday
Calcutta: Before Thursday, Anustup Majumdar had just one wicket to show from 27 first-class matches. That does not give one enough confidence to walk up to the captain and say ‘give me the ball and I will bail you out of danger’. But Anustup proved he is an exception.
At 147 for four, Mahesh Rawat and Tanmay Srivastava were looking well-settled in their endeavour to help Central Zone take the lead against East Zone, in the Duleep Trophy final, in Chennai.
With the pitch being helpful, Iresh Saxena, the lone specialist spinner in the East XI, was bowling well. But the match was slipping away from East’s grip because of the lack of a ‘spinning’ support from the other end. It was then that part-timer Anustup stepped in.
“Rawat and Srivastava’s partnership was 50-odd runs old… They were threatening to take the lead… Captain Nataraj Behera, had used up most of the options to affect a breakthrough. But most of our plans were going in vain.
“It was then that I told Nataraj that I would like to bowl… Actually, I was a bit apprehensive about my bowling since I didn’t bowl at the nets for quite some time. When I came to bowl, I tried to implement the things that I learnt over the years… My nerves eased after I got the breakthrough,” said Anustup.
The part-time leg-spinner extracted sharp turn and was armed with flippers and googlies.
Ishank Jaggi won the Man of the Match for his fighting century, but to be fair, Anustup, with figures of 7.5-0-29-4, was the man who turned the match on its head and helped East retain the Duleep Trophy title.
With such variations in his armoury, one may wonder why Anustup doesn’t bowl regularly. “Although I enjoy bowling, I never really gave it a thought seriously… Actually, I was quite inconsistent with my line and length. Perhaps, after today’s performance, I will concentrate on my bowling and try to become an all-rounder.”
And one man who can take credit for inspiring Anustup, the bowler, is Bengal coach Woorkeri Raman.
“It was in 2010 when Raman first saw me bowl at the nets… He was quite impressed and encouraged me to develop my art. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to bowl in the Ranji Trophy matches. Perhaps the other bowlers were so good that the Bengal captain didn’t feel the need to use me. But I’m always ready to bowl ,” Anustup said.