The Punjab net bowler who troubled Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav

By, Mohali
Sep 18, 2022 07:10 PM IST

Lovedeep's immediate goal is to break into the Punjab team and he said Sunday's experience will help him put his best foot forward in the domestic season.

"Bohut badhiya... Ye wala aur daalo," said India captain Rohit Sharma while handing the ball back to Lovedeep Singh, a 22-year-old left-arm seamer from Punjab. Left-arm pacers, especially those who bring the ball back in have historically had an upper hand over India's famed top order comprising Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. Perhaps that was the reason why Lovedeep, among all eight net bowlers used by India on Sunday in their first practice session ahead of the T20I against Australia at the PCA Stadium in Mohali, bowled the most to all three of them.

22-year-old left-arm seamer Lovedeep Singh(HT Photp)
22-year-old left-arm seamer Lovedeep Singh(HT Photp)

With a chiselled physique and strong bowling action, Lovedeep has the potential to develop into a good seam bowler maybe not of the same quality as a Trent Boult or Shaeen Shah Afridi as far as swinging the ball is concerned. But enough skills to keep batters of Rohit and KL Rahul's calibre on their toes.

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It was his well-disguised back-of-the-hand slower one that troubled Rohit, earning him some praise from the India captain. "He encouraged me a lot. He said 'well bowled' when I tried my slower one," Lovedeep said after the net session while letting his hands describe the back-of-the-hand release.

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The Indian team management had specially requested left-arm seamers and Lovedeep was almost handpicked by Dinesh Kumar, a cricket coach and the current net session in charge of the Punjab Cricket Association. "He has played for Punjab U-23 and I know he has huge potential. We got special requests for leg-spinners and left-arm pacers (from the Indian team management). We selected two leg-spinners but Lovedeep was the only left-armer," Kumar said.

Apart from the back-of-the-hand slower deliveries that earned praise from Rohit, Rahul and Suryakumar Yadav, the ball that Lovedeep would fondly remember for a long time was the one that nearly dismissed the India captain, or maybe it actually did. It was a length delivery that Rohit misjudged and played on the back foot. The ball stopped a bit and hit the bottom half of Rohit's bat to balloon up in the air toward the cover region, where generally a fielder is stationed pretty much all the time even in a T20I.

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"He went back and tried to push, the ball went up in the air," the excitement in Lovedeep's eyes while remembering the moment was quiet evident. "It was an experiment of a lifetime," said the left-arm seamer from Sangrur, who prefers the ball to do the talking.

Among all the Indian batters that Lovedeep bowled to, Virat Kohli appeared to be the most comfortable. His precise feet movement, and swift manoeuvres off the face of the bat were clearly the difference. "He is at a different level. I thought I could never beat his bat," said Lovedeep.

Lovedeep's immediate goal is to break into the Punjab team and he said Sunday's experience will help him put his best foot forward in the domestic season.

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    Aritra Mukherjee, who happens to be a journalist, is in an eternal relationship with food and sleep. He can, however, sacrifice both or at least the latter for his love-affair with cricket. 'He said,' 'he added,' 'he signed off' are some of his favourite phrases. When not juggling between food, sleep and cricket, he wastes time by surfing OTT platforms.

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