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Personal tragedies didn't break India's latest debutant, Akash Deep

India vs England, 2023-24: Personal tragedies didn't break India's latest debutant, Akash Deep. The journey of Akash Deep from domestic toil to India debut.

India vs England, 4th Test, Day 1_ Akash Deep took three wickets on Day 1 of Ranchi Test _ Walking Wicket (Images_ ©BCCI_Twitter)
Akash Deep took three wickets on Day 1 of Ranchi Test (Images: ©BCCI/Twitter)

Akash Deep has recently made waves with his impressive performance in his debut test match against England in the 4th Test in Ranchi as he claimed the first three batters in the first innings. His life took a transformative turn as he embraced his much-anticipated debut in the esteemed Indian cricket jersey. 

He had faced struggles in his cricket career. Be it the fewer opportunities in Bihar for cricketers in the Bihar Cricket Association or the fact that it was suspended during his initial playing days. His parents’ admonishments who wanted him to excel in academics or the sudden demise of his father and elder brother within six months in 2015. 

Akash Deep’s Cricketing Journey: From Tennis Ball cricket to donning the India Whites 

In his early days, his friend recommended him to a cricket club in Durgapur, where he started playing tennis-ball matches in the Durgapur district for Rs 600 per day and that’s how his cricketing journey began playing on behalf of the Cricket Association of Bengal.

The notable absence of the experienced India pacer Jasprit Bumrah, to manage his workload and keep him fit for the upcoming tournaments like IPL and T20 World Cup created a hullabaloo in the cricketing fraternity. Bumrah looked in great touch in the test series as he claimed 17 wickets at an average of 13.65 in the three test matches he had played against England. 

Akash Deep’s recent performances in the India A vs England Lions series where he claimed 13 wickets in 3 matches at an average of 18, convinced selectors to give a nod for him in the 4th test match due to the unavailability of key pacers like Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Shami and Mukesh Kumar. 

Overall, he has had an impressive First Class and List A career in which he boasted 107 wickets in 31 games under his belt at an average of 23.70 and 42 wickets in 28 games at an average of 24.50, respectively. In February 2022, he was bought by the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the auction for the 2022 Indian Premier League tournament and picked up 6 wickets in 7 games he played for RCB. But given the experience, stature and skillset of Jasprit Bumrah, it was too huge a void to fill. Akash wasn’t a like-to-like replacement for Bumrah and filling the huge shoes of the veteran was a daunting task ahead of him.

Jasprit Bumrah: A void too huge to fill for the debutant?

India began their 4th Test in Ranchi with one change to their team combination from the third one in Rajkot, with the skiddy debutant replacing Jasprit Bumrah. Within the first hour of play, the debutant had started asking tough questions to the batters for which he was rewarded heftily. His skiddy action with the ball riding on the variable bounce of the pitch nipping inwards back close to the stumps line troubled English batters in the first hours of the play although he isn’t a 145+kph tearaway bowler. 

He went round the wicket to the left-handed Ben Duckket which resulted in a nick being carried to Dhruv Jurel. He speared one straight into the advancing Ollie Pope’s front pad, basking in on the batter’s vulnerability to the inward angle. He bowled Crawley twice; Crawley was first-time-lucky as it was a no-ball. All this happened before he’d completed his sixth over in Test cricket and a dream debut spell a bowler could have ever asked for. 

Like Mohammed Shami and Mukesh Kumar, Akash also doesn’t belong to Bengal but all of them have made Bengal their den to embark on their cricketing journey. He is part of a long tradition of successful cricketing migrants – other prominent examples include Dilip Doshi, Arun Lal and Rohan Gavaskar. They’ve moved to Bengal from the mighty Gangetic states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

Akash has displayed enough promise in his first outing representing India in the white jersey. He will have to deliver consistent results across all the formats and tournaments to be in the front runners list of the pacers and IPL 2024 will be pivotal to strengthen his case further. Amongst all the pace debutants who recently featured for India in white jersey, Akash Deep surely had an impactful debut spell and this spell of his will help him etch a lasting impression on the minds of the selectors.

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