“He was excellent with the new ball, bowled very good hard lengths. I was surprised by his pace as well, said Royal Challengers Bangalore captain Faf du Plessis on Akash Deep even before the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 got underway. (IPL 2022 SCHEDULE | POINTS TABLE)
On Wednesday, the Bengal pacer repaid his captain’s faith with three wickets helping RCB with their first victory in IPL 2022 against a rejuvenated Kolkata Knight Riders at the DY Patil Stadium in a low-scoring affair.
Playing against the franchise from the state he plays domestic cricket for, Akash Deep was on the money from the first ball. Coming onto bowl in the third over, the 25-year-old Bengal pacer surprised KKR batting star Venkatesh Iyer with his pace and bounce for a simple caught and bowled.
The right-arm pacer didn’t take much time to strike again. In the penultimate delivery of the powerplay, Akash Deep hit the deck hard forcing Nitish Rana to play early into the hands of Dawid Willey, who took a brilliant running catch. KKR were three down inside the powerplay.
“My plan was to bowl hard lengths and was bowling according to the plan. I backed my strengths. My plan was to get one or two wickets early with the new ball. I kept a tab on the previous matches and it was important to take wickets with the new ball,” Akash Deep, whose third wicket was Umesh Yadav.
Even though Akash Deep conceded 45 runs in his 3.5 overs, his ‘jugalbandi’ with Sri Lankan spinner Wanindu Hasangara didn’t let KKR settle down at the DY Patil Stadium. Akash Deep also did a wonderful in the absence of Australian Josh Hazlewood, away in Pakistan.
Indian Premier League Journey
The Bengal pacer was drafted into the RCB setup last year in the UAE leg of the IPL as a net bowler before being named as a replacement for all-rounder Washington Sundar who suffered an injury. Akash Deep didn’t get a game last year but left a mark to be picked again this year at the mega auction last month at his base price of Rs 20 lakh.
Rubbing shoulders with the best in the business last season, Akash got a fair idea regarding the dynamics of IPL. Also having his Bengal teammate Shahbaz Ahamed in the same dressing room helped Akash Deep to overcome early jitters.
Akash Deep didn’t have a great IPL debut against Punjab Kings on March 27, but on Wednesday, he was determined to leave a mark and didn’t disappoint.
For Akash Deep, playing Ranji Trophy is important. “There is only one thing in my mind – I have to bowl fast, around 140-145kmph, whether I bowl the first over or the 25th over," he says. Akash Deep has taken 45 wickets from 11 first-class matches so far.
“Maintaining a balance between bowling fast and sticking to good line and length is also important. Playing Ranji Trophy helps,” Akash has been quoted as saying. In his List A career so far, Akash Deep has taken 25 wickets from 16 games. In T20s, he has bagged 30 wickets in 23 games.
Hailing from Sasaram, Bihar, Akash Deep made his first-class debut for Bengal in December 2019 and has since then established himself as a potent force in the pace attack that also comprises Ishan Porel and Mukesh Kumar. Porel is in the Punjab Kings squad this season.
Akash Deep was also the joint-highest wicket-taker for Bengal in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season along with Shahbaz taking 35 wickets and also played a crucial role in their road to final. However, Bengal lost to Saurashtra in the title round.
Akash Deep’s journey to the top hasn’t been a roller-coaster ride. His father, Ramji Singh, was a school teacher and didn’t want his son to pursue cricket as a profession. But Akash Deep was adamant in his aim and moved to Durgapur in West Bengal from Bihar to pursue his dream.
However, Akash Deep endured a tough time when he lost his father and elder brother within a space of few months. To support his family, Akash Deep headed back to Bihar. But his dreams didn’t let him stay away from the game.
He was back in Durgapur and with the help of a family member, Akash Deep joined United Club in CAB First Division League. A year later, Akash Deep was picked for the Bengal U-23 side before making his way into the senior side in 2018-19 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.