The Indian Premier League (IPL) is all about unearthing hidden talents. It provides a huge platform for the young cricketers (both Indian and overseas) to rub shoulders against the best of the world and any significant performance at this stage gives them immediate limelight.

Well, on Saturday night during the season opener between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, we have certainly discovered a raw talent — Mayan Markande, a 20-year old leg-spinner from Bathinda.

Before his spellbound bowling spell of 3 for 23 in four overs, which includes the wicket of MS Dhoni with a well-disguised googly, not many people had heard about this young kid. However, following the 24 balls, which this youngster bowled at Wankhede in his IPL debut for Mumbai Indians, Markande has now become an immediate sensation in Indian cricket.

So, let’s look back at his cricketing journey a little bit.

In domestic cricket Mayank represents Punjab. He came up the ladder through age-group cricket. In fact, the leggie was a part of the India Under-19 squad in 2016.

Interestingly, in his early days, Markande used to be a fast bowler who could bowl an accurate back-of-the-hand slower ball. However, his coaches identified his talent as a slow bowler and asked him to bowl leg-spin. It turns out to be a career-changing decision.

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“I started playing cricket at the age of 10 or 11. I used to be a fast bowler. But I wasn’t all that quick. The coaches at the academy I went to advised me to give up fast bowling. Also, they were impressed with the fact that I used to bowl the back-of-the-hand slower one very well. So, they suggested that I switch to leg-spin. Then, I worked on it for a couple of years. Given that I already knew to bowl the googly, things panned out pretty well,” Markande revealed in a recent interview.

Earlier this year, before going for a trial of Mumbai Indians, Markande made his debut for Punjab, in a Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (domestic T20 tournament) fixture against Jammu and Kashmir in Delhi. He played four games in the competition and took five scalps. In the subsequent Vijay Hazare Trophy (domestic 50-over tournament) he took 10 wickets through his accurate leg-spin and attracted a lot of eyeballs.

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When Mumbai Indians picked him up for a mere 20 lakh INR, he was playing an Under-23 BCCI tournament and had no access to his phone to check his status in the auction.

“We had a game the following day [on the day of auction], but I just couldn’t sleep that night. On match days, you are not allowed to use your phone at the ground. But when I finally switched it on in the evening, I had 37 missed calls and 300 messages. I rang up a few friends and they told me that the Mumbai Indians had picked me.

“I didn’t believe them. Then, I received a call from Mr Rahul Sanghvi (Team Manager — Cricket, Mumbai Indians). I was finally convinced. And I thanked him wholeheartedly. I had performed well at the MI trials, but I never thought I would be picked at the auction,” the young leggie revealed before the start of the eleventh edition of the IPL.

For any wrist-spinner, accuracy is the key and Markande has that quality. On Saturday, the youngster showed that he hit the desired length right from ball one. Furthermore, along with accuracy, he seems to have a street-smart approach as well.

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Bowling his first over in IPL. Mayank tossed up two leg-breaks to a well-set Ambati Rayudu. Then came a flat googly that trapped him right in-front. Two balls later he hit Kedar Jadhav on the pad with another googly. The umpire, Chris Gaffaney said no, Rohit Sharma did not review, and the replayed showed the ball would have hit the leg-stump. In the third ball of his next over, Markande got the biggest scalp of his career so far — Dhoni — who had no clue of that googly. Deepak Chahar was his third wicket of the night, getting out caught behind while trying to slog through the leg-side.

What was most impressive that spell, was his fearless tactic of giving the ball air, even when Jadhav and Dwayne Bravo adopted an offensive approach against the youngster. Well, being a huge admirer of Shane Warne, that is what is expected from Markande. #KhabarLive