Prashanth ready for long haul

Kerala paceman gets a taste of what life is like in the fast lane

“I’m not familiar with all this. You guys are really meticulous,” he said with a hint of smile. They were scenes straight out of a novel – an innocent village boy suddenly finding himself in a big town. Prashanth was a stranger to the glitzy world of media, on-field chats and television shows a few days ago, and therefore is yet to come to terms with all that. 

Change rushed into the life of this Kochi Tuskers Kerala player with the wickets of Virender Sehwag and Y Venugopala Rao at the Feroze Shah Kotla a few days ago. “Since that night, my mobile phone has never ceased to ring. Even my dad and mom have to keep answering mobile and landline.

“In Delhi, I had to switch my mobile off to have a peaceful breakfast the morning after that match against the Daredevils. I didn’t know one wicket and a few matches in IPL can bring so much attention,” said Prashanth, an employee of Indian Overseas Bank in Chennai.

Prashanth said Geoff Lawson, the Tuskers coach, gave him the most memorable compliment. “He told me that I have a lot of similarities with Zaheer Khan. Zaheer is my role model. What better compliment can you get?!”

The left-arm pacer from Alappuzha couldn’t hide his excitement at sharing a dressing room with big names like Mahela Jayawardene, Muttiah Muralitharan and VVS Laxman.

“Before the IPL, I watched these players only on television. But now I am playing with them. I thank God every morning for giving me the opportunity to be in the same dressing room as these great players. I hope it lasts long,” he said.

Before this, the closest Prashanth has come to being in the company of star players was when he earned a berth in the South Zone team in the season gone by after picking up 16 wickets for Kerala in the Ranji Trophy Plate Division. At 25, he has played only six first-class matches and that can be attributed to his late initiation into cricket.

It took a few years and numerous failures for Prashanth to understand that hammer throw was not his strength. “I started playing cricket with tennis balls and not until my college days in Kottayam did I touch a leather ball. I am thankful to P Balachandran (coach at the KRL cricket academy) for turning my career in the right direction and making me take up fast bowling. He found out that I have natural shoulder and back strength because of my training as a hammer thrower,” Prashanth said.

Now, Prashanth has another big hurdle to negotiate, a match against in-form Royal Challengers Bangalore. “I have already got a few phone calls asking me to get rid of Chris Gayle.”

If he indeed manages to winkle out the red-hot Jamaican, Prashanth can expect a few more calls soon!

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