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Indian Premier League 2021

IPL 2021: The rise and fall of Basil Thampi

Once seen as a bright prospect in Indian fast bowling, Thampi finds himself relegated to the Sunrisers Hyderabad bench.

IPL 2021: The rise and fall of Basil Thampi

Quick but wayward, Basil Thampi, will have to wait it out in IPL 2021 (Source: Scroll)


Rashi Bhattacharyya

Published: 6 April 2021 9:43 AM GMT

The year was 2017. The Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy was underway and a young pacer from Kerela grabbed national attention for speeds of 140-plus kph and toe-crushing yorkers.

The impressive performance not only secured him a spot as India's net bowler during their Test series against Australia in February-March but also gave him the golden ticket to the Indian Premier League.

Basil Thampi was picked up by Gujarat Lions for a whopping Rs. 85 lakhs for IPL 2017, and it is safe to say that he justified this hefty price tag at the time.
With 11 wickets from 12 matches, he would go on to finish as the franchise's top bowler that year. And his 3/29 against Mumbai Indians was the icing on the cake.
After dismissing T20 specialists like Chris Gayle, Kieron Pollard, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, and Manish Pandey during his maiden season, Thampi was declared as the Emerging Player of that season.
Despite his expensive economy of 9.49, Thampi became one of the leading contenders to break into the Indian squad as a prominent pacer in future.
In fact, he was named in the India-A squad for the tour to South Africa and India's T20I squad for their series against Sri Lanka following his IPL stint.
Thampi was about to make it to the international stage.

However, he wasn't quite destined to make the grade just yet.
In the following years at IPL with Sunrisers Hyderabad, his expensive bowling figures dented his chances further and reduced his appearances in the biggest T20 league in world cricket.
As the pacer works his way back into the scheme of things, whether or not he makes a return to SRH's playing XI in IPL 2021 remains largely uncertain.

A rise fueled by tennis-ball cricket

While growing up, Thampi was popular in the six-over a side tennis-ball games in hometown Kerala.
Since the grounds were small and he didn't want to get hit, he made yorkers his speciality.
Upon persuasion from Viswajit Radhakrishnan, secretary of the Perumbavoor Cricket Club, Thampi joined the Swantons Cricket Club in Kochi and started playing in age-group cricket for Kerala.

However, the young yorker-specialist was not sure about pursuing a full-time career as a cricketer.
And so he decided to finish his studies and take up a job in the 'Gulf' to support his family. But CM Deepak, the former Kerala wicket-keeper in charge of the Swanstons Cricket Club, wanted him to stay.
He would then sponsor Thampi's trip to Chennai, where the pacer went on to play for the famed Chemplast.

As he started clocking up speeds in excess of 140 kph, selectors started noticing him, and in 2014, he made his T20 and List-A debut.
The following year, a Ranji Trophy debut beckoned and soon, he became an integral part of the state team across all formats.

Trained at the MRF Pace Foundation by the likes of Jeff Thompson and Glenn McGrath, Thampi kept improving his technique and was noticed by the national team selectors.
Soon, stints as a net bowler for the Indian team followed and thereafter, a successful season with Gujarat Lions in the IPL unfolded.
It was then that Sunrisers Hyderabad decided to cash in on the fast bowler and acquired him for INR. 95 lakhs for the eleventh edition of the IPL.

Underwhelming performances jeopardises ascent at SRH

In his first season with SRH, Thampi showed promise with five wickets in his first three matches.
But all hell broke loose when he leaked 70 runs in a match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. This not only reduced his chances to play more IPL fixtures that year but also exposed glaring chinks in his bowling armoury.
In IPL 2019, the saga continued as he chalked up an economy rate of 9.16.
He also conceded 22 runs in the 18th over of SRH's Eliminator game against Delhi, which ultimately contributed to the team's defeat.
SRH still kept their faith in Thampi and retained him for IPL 2020 after he seemingly returned to form at the end of 2019 with his five-wicket haul against Gujarat in a Ranji Trophy game, which was followed by robust performances in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
But, in the solitary match that he played for Hyderabad in IPL 2020, Thampi managed to take just one wicket while conceding 46 runs.
After KKR's Shubman Gill struck three consecutive boundaries against Thampi in an over, the sun had well and truly set on his season.

Despite Thampi's underwhelming performance in the UAE, SRH surprisingly retained the 27-year-old for IPL 2021.
With the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, T Natarajan, and Sandeep Sharma in the line-up, Thampi's chances appear slim.
That said, the Kerala speedster will have to keep his chin up and stay fit, for when the chance does appear, his dreaded yorker will have to do the talking.
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