BENGALURU: On Thursday morning, when bowling coach Sairaj Bahutule handed pacer Mukesh Kumar his maiden India-A cap, it was a defining moment in the 28-year-old’s career. It was a reward for his consistency, which saw him pick up 52 wickets over two Ranji Trophy seasons for Bengal, and the hardships he had to endure to keep his cricket dream alive.
Mukesh, a late bloomer who took up competitive cricket less than a decade ago, made the debut count on the rain-truncated opening day of the first four-day game against New Zealand ‘A’ at the M Chinnaswamy stadium here, picking up 3/34.
Only 61 overs were bowled on the day as it began raining eight overs into the final session. A cautious New Zealand ended the day at 156/5 with Joe Carter unbeaten on 73. The visiting batsmen struggled against pace and with the sun rarely making an appearance on the day, the conditions were far from favourable for them, forcing them to adopt a defensive approach.
Given the continuous rain in the city over the past few days, the pitch had a generous amount of moisture and swing in the air, conditions tailor-made for Mukesh to execute his stock ball — outswingers.
He struck in the fifth over, foxing Chad Bowes with a delivery which he thought was moving away but came in. Bowes pulled early and top-edged to Ruturaj Gaikwad at short fine leg.
Mukesh stuck to hitting the deck consistently and making the batsmen play. Having watched videos of the New Zealand batsmen, who relied heavily on the pull and cut shots, Mukesh cashed in on their weakness.
New Zealand A: 156/5 in 61 overs (Joe Carter 73 not out; Mukesh Kumar 3-34)

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By jaghit

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