Forever struggling for footwear, Mayank Yadav taking giant leap | Cricket News

Mar31,2024



New Delhi: Just after midnight on Saturday, Devender Sharma's phone rang. In most views, midnight is the beginning of a new day, a change in the passage of time. The message in the call may also be indicating the same – a new beginning. But the voice on the other end did not indicate any such reaction, recalls Sharma.
“Sir, today is my debut. (Sir, today I got my debut).” The 'content' of the call was clear, short like a telegram, but Sonnet Club The coach immediately understood the seriousness of the meaning.
“He spoke as if nothing had happened. He just wanted to hear what I had to say,” Sharma told TOI the next morning.
Mayank Yadav, super-fast from Delhi, had just watched the IPL-view. Fueled by pace, his 3/27 helped Lucknow Super Giants thrash Punjab Kings in Lucknow on Saturday in what was a 'first innings' in every sense of the word.

“He has always been a simple and humble person,” Sharma recalled, explaining how during the winter of 2021-22, Yadav had distributed sweets to everyone at Sonet as he played in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy. Made his debut for Delhi. Then while chasing the target, he defended three runs in the last over, which helped Delhi to win. Now the innocent 21-year-old was happy that he was playing for Delhi and wanted to express his gratitude towards his club and coaches late Tarak Sinha and Devender Sharma.
Perhaps this aversion to even acceptable exaggeration stems in part from Yadav's humble, no-frills upbringing. “His father ran a small commodity business, which helped him make ends meet, which collapsed during Covid,” Sharma said. He further said, “Tarak sir and I always believed that boys from ordinary backgrounds make better fast bowlers.
“He was a weak 14-year-old kid then and we were looking for bowlers at the club. We could see that he came from a simple background. Seven years ago, when we found him, he didn’t even have proper shoes,” the coach recalled. The Sonnet Club has been arranging for his bowling shoes since then. Then groundedness is not an option but a compulsion. According to Sharma, Yadav used the Rs 30 lakh contract with LSG to renovate his house and help his family.

It appears that there is a constant dark, satirical joke going on between Yadav and the shoes. Last season, when he made his IPL debut, he was believed to have strained his hamstring during a practice match as his old spikes failed to grip the damp crease. Even after being with the Lucknow franchise for three seasons and playing for Delhi, Yadav has still not received a shoe contract. This also happened after kind words from top officials of the Delhi and District Cricket Association.
So, in this IPL season, understanding his circumstances better, the fast bowler ordered a few pairs from Australia. He knows it has to be good enough to last him through a tough season. His coach revealed, “He has earned enough money to spend at least that much in the last two years.”
There is an elusive quality to Yadav that his survival instincts may have taught him to remain in good shape. At first glance, few would bet on him bowling at 156 kmph as he did against Punjab last night.
“When he came to us, he was not being nourished properly, he was even given very little food. But his balls were hitting the nets hard,” laughed Yadav, remembering, “We thought we had found a natural.”
The coach then spoke about Josh and education: “He dined with us at the club. He is a vegetarian but is always strong enough to bowl fast with ease. His balls skidded after being pitched. But he soon learned that he could not be one-dimensional. Out-swing came naturally to him, but with his pace, batsmen simply had to slash hard and runs would leak through the edges. So, we helped them develop the ball to come,” informed Sharma.
There was a sudden favorable turn in the life of this young bowler when during his debut in Delhi, Vijay Dahiya was also present there as the coach of Uttar Pradesh in Mohali. “We were having joint net sessions. Suddenly, I saw him in the nets nearby and immediately called Gautam Gambhir,” recalled the former Delhi player. The Delhi connection helped, both Gambhir and Dahiya were associated with LSG at that time.
“We decided to invest in that. We were not going to play him in the first season because he was not prepared mentally and physically. Since he had not played junior cricket at the state level, there were no miles in his legs. But that was an important investment for us. No one knew about him but we picked him up in the auction,” revealed Dahiya.
Yadav has been on the radar of the national selectors since the Deodhar Trophy earlier this season. His captain at LSG, KL Rahul, has great confidence in him. Before the last Test series in South Africa, he was called to bowl against Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Rahul himself. While he impressed the Indian giants, he also suffered a side-strain, which was later diagnosed as a rib fracture, ruling him out of the Ranji season.
LSG is aware of the talent they have. “Even when he got injured, we did not abandon him. We have a facility in Mumbai which is very good for sports medicine. We sent Mayank there and prepared him for the IPL,” Dahiya said. The results have started to appear, as the cricket world got to see on Saturday. Perhaps now Devendra Sharma will also wait for the phone to ring after midnight. At best, he will sleep with a speed-gun next to him.



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