#KXIP Star of the Week – Rishi Dhawan

Born and brought up in Himachal Pradesh, Rishi Dhawan is a bowling all-rounder and loves to play cricket 24×7. The 24-year-old Himachal boy has also led the Himachal Pradesh state team in the domestic circuit. After realizing the potential of his dreams and fewer opportunities available back at home, Rishi left his home-town Mandi few years back, to earn a name for himself as an aspiring cricketer.

#KXIP Star of the Week – Rishi Dhawan | Planet "M"
Rishi Dhawan and Akshar Patel of Kings XI Punjab
When he was induced in the Kings XI Punjab squad for the IPL 2014 season, Rishi was thrilled to play amidst Sehwag, Miller and Johnson.

“I did watch the IPL auctions that day at my nani’s home in Amritsar. I was certainly thrilled like any other player when there was bidding on my name. But that was it, and now I don’t even talk about it anymore. I know it will only count if I make a winning contribution to my team,” said Rishi Dhawan in an interview.

Team KXIP met Rishi Dhawan this week for an exclusive chat. We asked Rishi a few questions about his life as a cricketer.

To whom you would like to bowl for your life: Sachin Tendulkar or Virender Sehwag?
Rishi Dhawan (RD): Both. I had bowled to Sachin paaji in nets only. It was a great experience. Recently, got a chance to bowl to Viru bhai during Vijay Hazare Trophy. Both are legends. So would love to bowl both.

What do you love more: Books or Cricket?
RD: I don’t read books so cricket only.

What is the best advice given to you?
RD: Sachin paaji once told me that you are good bowler and batsman so concentrate on both. Do your best to be a good all-rounder. I always keep that in my mind.

If you were a Film Director, whom you would sign as your lead actor and actress?
RD:  Hero..obviously me [laughs] and heroine koi bhi Bollywood ki. Chalo Katrina Kaif ko le lunga. (Any Bollywood heroine. Okay, I would sign Katrina Kaif)

What does Rishi Dhawan like the most about his life as a cricketer?
RD: Best thing is that I get to play cricket which is my love. I just enjoy a lot when I play cricket so best thing about life is that I am a cricketer.

Akshar Patel – The next breed of Indian stars!

He was named the best Under-19 cricketer by the BCCI for the 2012-13 season. After that, his performance with Kings XI Punjab brought him the Emerging Player trophy for the 2014 edition of IPL. He took a five-wicket haul in his second only first-class match against Delhi last year; whilst his performance with the Under-23 team helped India win the 2013 ACC Emerging Teams Cup.

Coming from the ranks of Junior cricket with gradual transformation to the Senior side, Gujarat’s Akshar Patel has a lot to promise with both bat and ball.

Akshar Patel – The next breed of Indian stars! | Planet "M"
Akshar Patel of Kings XI Punjab with his team-mate David Miller
An admirer of batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, cricket never came as the first choice to the lanky southpaw spinner. When Akshar expressed his wish to become an engineer, it was actually his father who forced him to play cricket seriously.

Since his First-Class debut in 2012 to the ongoing India-Sri Lanka series, he capitalized the chances given to him. Be it the 2013/14 Ranji season with Gujarat or the debut IPL season with KXIP this year – his performance in the One Day Internationals made everyone a fan of him.

He has 29 First-Class wickets to his name with an impressive economy of 2.10 whereas his best bowling figure stands at 7/75 – all that from just 8 matches.

Talk about his performance in the shortest format of the game, his bowling average falls at 22.52 in comparison with 24.10 that he manages in the First-Class cricket.

While his bowling records impress equally in the List A career, his batting ability lower-down the order often comes handy. It was seen during the Quadrangular series finale – in August this year – where he and Rishi Dhawan paired to add 93 runs for the seventh wicket that thumped Australia A in a close encounter at Marrara Oval in Australia.

The same kind of hitting he did during the 1st ODI between India and Sri Lanka at Barabati Stadium of Cuttack: scored 14 off just 4 balls that he faced, out of which two went on for sixes as India put 363/5 on board after brilliant centuries from Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan for the first wicket.

His bowling figure of 3/40 in the 3rd ODI at Hyderabad even left R Ashwin shy of him who managed just one at the expense of 43 runs. Note that Akshar Patel bowled a maiden over too.

At the age of just 20, Akshar Patel, however, has had a brilliant start to his career. While it may be too early to comment on his all-rounding ability, especially his comparison with Ravindra Jadeja for an ODI slot, performing at the international level is one thing and staying there while improvising your own game is another.

But when he said “I have set a goal, to play for India when I am 23 or 24, and I am working towards that” in an interview last year, it can be assumed he knows his game even better.

Parvinder Awana – KXIP’s home grown hero!

They say IPL is not cricket and T20 should not be promoted heavily for the sake of prolonging Test cricket. While some may argue the role of franchisee-based tournaments to promote sports including cricket; though, you would agree that it’s a launching pad for many aspirants out there to showcase their talent and in turn earn a national call.

Parvinder Awana – KXIP’s home grown hero! | Planet "M"
Parvinder Awana is the 3rd most successful bowler of all time for Kings XI Punjab.
We have seen it in the past. The rise of the IPL not only proved beneficial to Indian cricket in particular, but also did wonders to other cricketing nations as well. Shaun Marsh, Shane Watson, Kieron Pollard, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Ajinkya Rahane, Mohit Sharma…you just name it and the list goes on.

Parvinder Awana, however, joins a different list of achievers. Remember Rahul Sharma (Pune Warriors), Sanju Samson (Rajasthan Royals), and R Vinay Kumar (Royal Challengers Bangalore). The trio have one thing similar between them – they have grown up through an IPL franchisee, contributed to their team’s success, and earned a national cap for self.

After an impressive domestic season with Delhi Ranji team back in 2011-12, Awana immediately found a spot in the KXIP squad ahead of IPL season 5. He didn't disappoint and lived up to the expectations; ended his maiden IPL season as the highest wicket-taker for Punjab: 17 wickets off 12 matches whereas his team found sixth place in the points-tally with 16 points.

The IPL charm continued to keep Awana in headlines when he was rewarded a place in the national side for the T20I series against a touring English side in December 2012. His magic with the ball didn’t work this time. He remained wicketless, managed to have an economy of 11.83 from 6 overs throughout the series.

Soon after, he broke the jinx with the ball in IPL 2013. Kept the opposition batsman tickling, paired with Azhar Mahmood he jointly led the wickets tally for Punjab with 15 wickets from 14 matches. Again in the IPL 7, he found himself with some wickets though only appeared in fewer matches.

In the recently concluded CLT20 he dismissed the likes of Suresh Raina, Pawan Negi and MS Dhoni in quick succession – during the 2nd semi-final – only to realize after a while that it’s a hat-trick. However, Punjab didn’t win the final against Chennai but Awana, once again, remained the leading striker for the side: 9 wickets from 5 matches.

Fate or fortune, however you may say, Kings XI Punjab look a totally different side with him in the playing XI. Though statistically, he is not as good a bowler citing an economy of 8.26; yet he managed to stay in the top 3 bowlers who ever played for Punjab.

It’s his wicket taking ability that makes him special. So what if he didn’t deliver the same at the international level, given the maiden chance against England back in 2012! As long as there will be wickets in his kitty, an Indian call is just around the corner.

Here hopes more happy times for Awana and his journey with KXIP!

Review: My 5 memorable moments of the 2014 ICC World T20

Like the format of the game, T20 World Cup – in its 7 year history – has witnessed five different nations emerged as the champion with only five teams managed to get into the final showdown; out of which three belongs to sub-continent.

In the meantime, not only the T20 format is widely acknowledged by the masses, but also the induction of innovative technology garnered pretty eyeballs. Those LED stumps, Spider Cams, Cheerleaders, etc. have ensured wide possibilities in the future of T20 cricket itself! Leave alone its collective impact on Tests and One-dayers for a while.

Right from the start – back in the year 2007 – in South Africa to the Bangladesh in 2014, there have been a lot of moments for cricketing minds to cherish for long. Be it Yuvraj Singh’s 6-sixes in an over or that final over by Joginder Sharma in the 2007 T20 WC, Pakistan’s characteristic victory against Sri Lanka in the 2009 Finals, England’s historic trophy celebrations in the following year v Australia, or the West Indies’ calypso rhyme in the year 2012: one can find his/her own favorite to relate with.

Review: My 5 memorable moments of the 2014 ICC World T20 | Planet "M"
Review: Five best moments of the ICC World T20 Bangladesh 2014
While this edition’s World Cup promised to be the most thrilling one, let’s rewind some of the memorable moments of the 2014 ICC World T20:

5. England v New Zealand, Chittagong: NZ started their campaign in a style.

England v New Zealand, Chittagong: NZ started their campaign in a style. | Planet "M"
Stuart Broad was unhappy with the umpires with lightning in the area
Losing a rain-marred match in T20 cricket is more frustrating than warming the bench due to injury while being at the peak of your career.

Ask Stuart Broad and he would describe as being deceived, but to no extent. On the other hand, Kiwis were seen as happy as they have been from a while now.

After sensing the possibility of rain due to huge crack of lightening, Brendon McCullum hit those important but unfair sixes which obviously gave them a go-ahead in a fairly poised match. In some way, the match set the tone for both sides with New Zealand as a more competent side to watch out for compared to the less-confident English side.

4. New Zealand v South Africa, Chittagong: Kiwis nailed by Steyn in the final over.

New Zealand v South Africa, Chittagong: Kiwis nailed by Steyn in the final over. | Planet "M"
Dale Steyn effects the winning run-out
Talk about 7 runs in the last over may seem easy, but then how about balancing the equation with Dale Steyn as the opposition bowler while New Zealand at the receiving end?

Chasing a modest total of 171, the way New Zealand lost the match is rather more disheartening. Their in-form batsman Ross Taylor was on-strike till the last ball, yet Steyn made sure “it will not be a cakewalk either”!

And rest one could assume the consequences followed. Ross Taylor was made run-out by the bowler himself and oh! How pretty that celebration was to watch for. Steyn’s no-one-is-allowed-to-score approach in the final overs executed well, once again. Thus, complemented the quality of bowling he possesses.

3. West Indies v Australia, Dhaka: Sammy humbled Faulkner off two sixes in an over.

West Indies v Australia, Dhaka: Sammy humbled Faulkner off two sixes in an over. | Planet "M"
James Faulkner reacts after Darren Sammy finishes the match with a six
Either walk the talk, or just don’t talk at all!

Darren Sammy’ heroics off James Faulkner probably muttered the same. The two back-to-back sixes certainly echoed much of the ‘talk’ back right into the face of babbling Australian all-rounder.

Later, pictures confirmed the intensity of the match with the way Chris Gayle danced; Sammy rejoiced the Windies win followed by Dwayne Bravo’ presser, said: “Respect game and fellow cricketers”.

Just like putting mirrors in front of an ugly face won’t change its fate anyway. Apparently, the boomerang returned with severe injuries; resulted in opening the send-off doors for the Australians. Lost an almost in-controlled match due to poor bowling, Australian team was left bamboozled the way opposition finished it.

2. Sri Lanka v New Zealand, Chittagong: Herath produced spell of the tournament.

Sri Lanka v New Zealand, Chittagong: Herath produced spell of the tournament. | Planet "M"
Rangana Herath had figures of 5 for 3 
If there would be a list of best T20 matches played ever, this one will surely break into the top-5.

Before the match, both Sri Lanka and New Zealand had the equal opportunity to make the cut for SFs. While at the end, Sri Lanka stepped up confidently in a one-sided match: thanks to the phenomenal bowling by Rangana Herath, who took 5 wickets in 3.3 overs with two-maidens and conceded just three-runs.

New Zealand, earlier, did bowl neatly and set the target to 120 on board for themselves. For which only Kane Williamson stood strong as a lone fighter among all his teammates. He was not supported well and left alone in the middle to watch the other end fails as wickets fell continuously at regular intervals.

1. India v Sri Lanka, Dhaka: Sangakkara takes SL home in the final.

India v Sri Lanka, Dhaka: Sangakkara takes SL home in the final. | Planet "M"
Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka hits the ball past MS Dhoni of India
When India entered in the finale as the favorites to win for, Malinga & Co. then had other plans for their Asian counterparts.

Restricted India to 130/4 after winning the toss – the final over by the Lankan captain redefined the definition of slog-overs in a big match like this.

In reply, India did manage to get an early breakthrough but it was probably not their day.

Kumar Sangakkara, who remained off-colour for most of the tournament, then, found it the best opportunity to get some runs underneath him. And in such a way he scored a flashy half-century that comfortably drove Sri Lanka for a much awaited luxurious victory!

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