Key player: Sai Kishore, second from right, is expected to play a bigger role for Titans in this edition.

Key player: Sai Kishore, second from right, is expected to play a bigger role for Titans in this edition.
| Photo Credit: VIJAY SONEJI

In 2023, R. Sai Kishore did not play a single IPL match for Gujarat Titans. Going by his performance in Sunday’s six-run win over Mumbai Indians, he is set to play more than a handful this season.

Prized wicket

The left-arm spinner bowled four uninterrupted overs for a miserly 24 runs, and picked up the prized wicket of Rohit Sharma that triggered MI’s collapse. That the effort came despite the presence of dew made it all the more praiseworthy.

“I was expecting dew to play a major role,” Sai Kishore said after the win. “The ball was wet but for some strange reason it was still holding on to the wicket. I was surprised by the amount of purchase I was getting. So I just tried to mix my pace and go slow through the air.”

The chance to bowl his full quota of overs at one go helped, Sai Kishore said.

“When you bowl four on the trot, it is easier and you can be in rhythm for a lot longer. When you look at Syed Mushtaq Ali [Trophy] or TNPL, it goes 1-1-1-1 for me. That is how I use my overs.”

“With the Impact Player rule, we are playing with six bowlers, and with the amount of quality we have, I am getting to bowl those four [overs on the trot] which I am enjoying.”

Curiously, it may well be Hardik Pandya’s exit from GT that paves the way for a more consistent run for Sai Kishore in the team. There is little doubt that the Tamil Nadu skipper would have even otherwise staked claim, having finished with 53 wickets in the Ranji Trophy.

But with Afghan Azmatullah Omarzai being looked at as Hardik’s replacement, and Rashid Khan and South Africa’s David Miller certainties in the side, the bowling will need to be India heavy. Even as Rashid remains the principal threat, Sai Kishore can emerge as the ghost in the ring.

“In the other teams that I play, I usually do the lead role. To do the second role is actually exciting,” Sai Kishore stated.

“Most teams will just play out Rashid and they are going to come after me. That is going to make things exciting. We haven’t spoken in detail about how to go about bowling together but that sync is [already] there.”


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