IND vs SL: Uttar Pradesh’s Saurabh Kumar earned a maiden India call-up ahead of the Test series against Sri Lanka. The 28-year Saurabh Kumar is a rising allrounder from Uttar Pradesh. In FC, besides taking 196 FC wickets, he has also scored 1572 runs with two centuries and eight fifties. In List A, he has 37 wickets and 173 runs. He also has 24 wickets and 148 runs in T20s. Saurabh Kumar will be the only new face to feature in India’s 18-man Test. The squad announced on Saturday for the upcoming two-match series against Sri Lanka. 

He was once spotted by Bishan Singh Bedi, who took the budding left-arm spinner under his wing, and Saurabh’s journey began to take shape. He played for Uttar Pradesh in junior cricket but getting into the Ranji Trophy squad was tough. The state team had no place for him, so he played a season (2014-15) for Services before moving back to his home state.

IND VS SL: Who is Saurabh Kumar?

IND vs SL: Who is Allrounder Saurabh Kumar? Surprise Entrant in Indian Test Team for Sri Lanka Series
IND vs SL: Who is Allrounder Saurabh Kumar? Surprise Entrant in Indian Test Team for Sri Lanka Series

A conventional left-arm spinner is rare in domestic cricket but Saurabh is one. In his first game for Uttar Pradesh, against Gujarat in 2015-16, he took 10 wickets. There was no looking back thereafter. He is also competent with the bat, having scored two first-class hundreds and eight fifties for an average of 29.11. He was part of India A vs SA A in December and also performed exceptionally well during the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 trophy.

The 28 years old, had previously left his mark in Ranji Trophy where he managed 44 wickets and 285 runs in 8 matches. He had scored 304 runs and taken 17 wickets in his debut Ranji season. Once he recorded a partnership with Kuldeep Yadav for the 8th wicket of 192 runs against Baroda. In that partnership, he scored a century.

“Mein ye carom-varom ball nahi daalta [I don’t bowl the carom ball]. I never liked it. I like to loop it and set up batsmen in the air.”

He relies on the traditional tools of flight, dip and turn.

For the uninitiated, carrom ball is a fad nowadays. It’s often delivered by off-spinners and left-arm spinners. In India, there are many crafty spinners who deploy carrom balls with good effect. Veteran Ravichandran Ashwin is one of the finest carrom ball exponents. Ashwin even calls his variation ‘Sodukku ball’, with obvious reference to the flicking of fingers (in the Tamil language).

Chetan Sharma on Saurabh Kumar

“Saurabh Kumar has been doing very well in domestic cricket. He went to South Africa with India A. The selectors are very happy with Saurabh Kumar’s performance. He is a left-hand spinner from Uttar Pradesh. A young guy who is doing very well.

Chairman of All India Senior Selection Committee, said during a virtual press conference.

IND VS SL: He also added that the committee went on a lot of discussions and decided that he would be a nice choice. Because he was with the team for net bowling and standby also. In SA, he was one of the standby and now they have included him in the senior team. We all hope that he does well.

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