A 25-year-old bowler, who had conceded 24 runs off his first three overs, was handed the ball again. Kuldeep Sen was playing his maiden IPL game and he had to save 15 runs in the last over against the likes of Marcus Stoinis (28 not out off 12) and Avesh Khan (6 not out off 1). It was Rajasthan Royals vs Lucknow Super Giants in IPL 2022.
When he took the ball to bowl the final over, Kuldeep Sen, a right-arm pacer from Madhya Pradesh’s Rewa, might have recalled his way to the big stage in span of seconds.
A flashback to his barber father scolding and beating him to not play cricket in childhood, his determined coach helping him with all the facilities required for his practice, and his endless struggle that pushed him to do better every day. It's a long story...
Cut to IPL 2022, here he was and this was Kuldeep Sen's chance to become a star. His father, who earns INR 8000 a month, had completed his shift and was watching his son play with 49 other family members, besides the entire Rewa cheering for the local boy.
Calm And Composed Kuldeep Sen
No doubt pressure was at its peak, but Kuldeep Sen showed nerves of steel to win the game for Rajasthan Royals, the franchise that had bought him for INR 20 lakh at IPL auctions 2022.
He conceded a single to Avesh before bowling three back-to-back dot balls to a powerful all-rounder like Marcus Stoinis. The game was over for LSG as they needed an improbable 14 off the last two balls.
An edge from Stoinis’ bat then went for a four before he could hit a six off the last ball to make it an 11-run over. It was too late though and RR won the game by three runs.
Kuldeep Sen was playing only his first IPL match but RR skipper Sanju Samson’s trust in him and his performance in the follow up showed what he is capable of.
"Got the feel that he (Kuldeep Sen) has done well and he is confident to go and execute his wide yorker which he has been working in the off season. Saw him in Syed Mushtaq and he was nailing his wide yorkers," said Samson after the game.
Later, the Madhya Pradesh pacer registered figures of 4/20 against Royal Challengers Bangalore to further prove his credentials, besides chipping in with a wicket each in three other matches.
Blind Trust Of A Coach
Kuldeep did not have the required finances to meet his training needs. Aril Anthony, a former Madhya Pradesh Under-19 fast bowler, helped him with his training gears and diet.
Kuldeep was even scolded and at times beaten by his father in his childhood to not play cricket. However, Kuldeep Sen still needed a lot of polishing and guidance. Aril Anthony arrived as a messiah.
The coach never stopped trusting his disciple because Anthony knew what was waiting ahead for Sen.
Kuldeep Sen made his domestic debut for Madhya Pradesh in 2018. He has played 16 First-Class games and claimed 44 wickets, while in 19 T20s he has taken 13 wickets.
Sen has picked four wickets across five games at an economy rate of 7.75 in the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.