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Tripathi & Sen impressed in VHT 2022-23; colourful outings for India next?

Rahul Tripathi scored 524 runs from 8 innings at an average of 87.33 and Kuldeep Sen took 18 wickets from 6 innings at an average of 12.72 in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23.

India vs Ireland, T20Is 2022_ Rahul Tripathi gets maiden call up for India T20I Team against Ireland _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Rahul Tripathi scored 524 runs from 8 innings in VHT'22 (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

India have given several of their backup players chances in the middle order since 2019 because that proved to be their Achilles’ heel in the last ODI mega event where they were forced to exit from the semi-final stage at the hands of New Zealand.

In the batting department, Rahul Tripathi scored 524 runs for Maharashtra in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23, while right-arm fast bowler Kuldeep Sen from Madhya Pradesh took 18 wickets in the premier List A competition of India.

They are part of India's ODI squad for the three-match series against Bangladesh which kicks off on Sunday.

Let’s take a look at their journeys from the grassroots to being deserving candidates to play for India in the near future.

Rahul Tripathi: From the grassroots of cricketing background

Rahul Tripathi is known for hitting big shots and he rose to prominence when he cracked six sixes off one single over on two occasions in local cricket. Tripathi comes from a cricketing background as his father had played for Uttar Pradesh at the junior and University levels.

Tripathi started playing cricket from a young age but he had to shift base to Pune, being a son of an army man. Ajay Tripathi ensured that his son got formal cricket training in Pune which paved the future path for Rahul.

Tripathi was enrolled in Deccan Gymkhana and his cricketing journey had well and truly begun. The dynamic right-hand batter didn’t have a great start to his first-class career as he returned low scores in Ranji Trophy for Maharashtra with just 185 runs in 11 innings, but a rare opportunity saw him getting signed for Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) during the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) player auction. Even before the season kicked off, Tripathi justified his selection by the Pune-based franchise by scoring 157 runs in just three innings in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) that preceded IPL 2017.

Tripathi played just one game in the middle order before the RPS management, with an aim to use the best version of the batter, decided to promote him to the top and the move worked like magic for both the team and Tripathi himself as he ended the competition with 391 runs in 14 games with the best of 93 in just 52 balls.

He had couple of seasons with the Rajasthan Royals (RR), and then a few years with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Tripathi got regular opportunities for RR, while for KKR, the change of his position in the batting order wasn’t offering the best stage to showcase his talent.

At present, Tripathi is with the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) but what’s impressive is that the hard working Tripathi never raises questions over the job he is assigned; with a bright smile, he keeps on scoring runs with the hope of being in the Indian side regularly in the near future.

IPL 2022, SRH vs CSK, Top Performances_ Rahul Tripathi scores quick-fire 15-ball-39 and helps SRH beat CSK _ Walking Wicket (Images ©BCCI_IPL)
Rahul Tripathi gets ODI call for Bangladesh tour (Images ©BCCI/IPL)

Tripathi shines in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022-23 with 524 runs

If Tripathi wants to be a regular member of India’s squad in the 50-over game, he is required to keep on scoring runs; however, with the amount of talent India has at the moment, scoring runs may not guarantee him the place in the national squad, which is why Tripathi decided to be little more expressive in collecting those runs.

The Maharashtra batter began the season with a brilliant 80-ball 75 against Railways, before scoring his first century of the season when he smashed an unbeaten 156 in just 137 balls with the help of 18 boundaries and couple of sixes, against a good-looking Mumbai side. He carried the form against Services with another century (111 in 113 balls), before registering his third hundred of the season as he smacked 107* against Mizoram.

In eight games this season, Rahul Tripathi is the fourth-highest run scorer of the tournament with 524 runs in eight innings at an average of 87.33 and strike rate of 94.24 with three centuries and two half centuries.

Unconventional attacking shots could push Tripathi an extra yard

Without a doubt, when Suryakumar Yadav plays those jaw-dropping shots all around the ground in white ball games, the opponent teams hardly have any options at their disposal to get the better of the batter and just like SKY, Rahul Tripathi too could play some unconventional shots all around the field - like scooping the ball over the wicketkeeper’s head for a boundary or reverse scooping the spinner for a six.

“I am very happy that the selectors and everybody believed in me and whatever hard work I have put in, I have got the rewards,” Tripathi expressed after being picked in the Indian squad.

“And hopefully, if I get an opportunity to play, I will try and give my best.”

Tripathi’s main competition will be against the likes of Virat Kohli or Shreyas Iyer, but with scoring runs in every single innings, Tripathi is raising the bar high and he will look forward to earn his maiden ODI cap when India take on Bangladesh in a three-match ODI series that kicks off on December 4 in Mirpur.

Speedster Kuldeep Sen: A strong kid with lofty ambitions

The third of five children, Kuldeep Sen, began playing cricket at the Vindhya Cricket Academy (VCA) club nearly a decade ago but with his father being a barber, all the earnings were spent in education of the five children. But watching his son moving forward, his father decided to fulfill his son’s dreams; he made sure no obstacle would arrive between Kuldeep and cricket.

Kuldeep, the medium fast bowler who was under coach Eril Anthony in the Rewa Cricket Academy since 2018, has a lot of a passion for the game. Fast forward to his present days, Kuldeep has a good run-up, high-arm action and he is known to hit the deck hard.

In the Indian Premier League (IPL) mega-auction held in February 2022, Rajasthan Royals (RR) snatched the raw pacer Kuldeep Sen for a base price of 20 lakhs and when he got an opportunity for the first time in the fourth game, this medium pacer took the team to the top of the points table.

Irani Trophy 2022-23, SAU vs ROI_ Kuldeep Sen took 8 wickets against Saurashtra in Irani Trophy 2022 (Photo_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Kuldeep took 8 wickets against Saurashtra in Irani Trophy 2022 (Photo: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Kuldeep stands tall with 18 wickets in Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022

With India struggling with their bowling in recent times in the white ball format, Kuldeep Sen kept on knocking the door with his wicket taking abilities. He didn’t have a great start to the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2022 season for Madhya Pradesh, as he was blown away for 1/70 from 7.2 overs in the high scoring opening game against Jammu & Kashmir. But he made a great comeback in the second game against Odisha returning figures of 4/28 from his six overs.

After ending with 3/51 from his 10 overs against Uttarakhand, Kuldeep recorded his first five wicket haul of the season when he had 5/36 from his 9.3 overs against Punjab, as he extracted full advantage from the helpful red soil surface at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. In his last game of the season, Kuldeep Sen ended with 2/7 from his four overs against Baroda.

Even though Madhya Pradesh failed to qualify for the quarter-final stage of the tournament, Kuldeep Sen who has bagged 25 List A wickets in 13 games, has registered himself as the top wicket-taker of the season so far with 18 scalps in just six innings at an average of 12.72 and economy of 5.34, including two four-fers and one five wicket haul. Before the tournament too, he impressed the world with three wickets and much more stable bowling in the unofficial ODIs against New Zealand A.

Smartness and expressive pace key traits of Kuldeep

Besides having expressive pace, Kuldeep Sen who bowls with 140+ kmph almost on a regular basis, is also a smart bowler. He uses his ‘hit the deck’ ability in the best possible way and with India scheduled to tour Australia and South Africa next year, Kuldeep Sen could be a great asset playing on those surfaces.

In his IPL debut game for RR against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), he successfully defended 15 off the last over, delivering three consecutive dot balls. Sen who scalped eight wickets in the 2022 season credits Lasith Malinga for the latter’s exclusive inputs.

“Spending time with Lasith Malinga was crucial for me; he used to tell me how to bowl in the death overs and share his experience and I feel blessed that I got to learn from him,” Sen said in an interview with Sportskeeda. “I was also able to implement the things he told me, and it was a great advantage getting to learn from him.”

India will now play a three-match ODI series against Bangladesh with the first ODI to be played on December 4 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.


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