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Can the promising trailer of Vidwath Kaverappa deliver a blockbuster?

Last updated on 17 Jul 2023 | 05:19 PM
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Can the promising trailer of Vidwath Kaverappa deliver a blockbuster?

Watch out! There is an emerging hero on the Indian domestic circuit, and his first poster packs a real punch

The final of the 2023 Duleep Trophy was never going to be easy for South Zone. With West Zone having a star-studded batting line-up at their disposal, it needed a lion-hearted effort from South Zone, who were chasing a Duleep Trophy title for the last 10 years. 

It was then Vidwath Kaverappa rose to the occasion. Not one or two, but by picking seven wickets in the first innings, he broke West Zone’s back to leave them in a position of no return. In the presence of national selectors Shiv Sundar Das, Subroto Banerjee, and Sridharan Sharath, Kaverappa managed to topple India's top batters like Cheteshwar Pujara, Suryakumar Yadav, and Sarfaraz Khan in the final and thus led the way for South to secure a victory for ages.

Born and raised in the Coorg province of Karnataka, known as the "Cradle of Indian Hockey," Kaverappa has always been a multi-talented sportsman. But the lanky lad chose to play cricket despite representing the state in Handball in his school days. 

Going by the way his first domestic season has unfolded, the decision to pivot his career seems like the right choice. His success in the final and semi-final of the 2022/23 Duleep Trophy is a huge testimony to the same. 

West Zone were cruising at 97/1, with Prithvi Shaw batting on 61 and Harvik Desai on 21. Harvik chased a wide one off the bowling of Kaverappa in the 31st over, and Shaw was picked up by his partner Vyshak Vijaykumar in the 32nd over. 

The procession of West Zone batters started from the 31st over. Surya got a brute (outswinger) in the 35th over, and Sarfaraz was undone by an inswinger for a duck in the 37th over. Both times it was Kaverappa who wreaked havoc. 

In two Duleep trophy games, the lanky pacer grabbed 15 wickets while averaging a minuscule 11.9 at a strike rate of 29. Only Saurabh Kumar (16) had more wickets than Kaverappa. In any case, among bowlers who had bowled 25+ overs in this Duleep Trophy, none had a better average or strike rate than Kaverappa. 

But this wasn't a surprise to anyone who had seen him bowl. He always boasted the talent, and he reaped rewards for the effort that he had put in during the 2022/23 Ranji season in the last couple of weeks, putting him in the radar of national selectors. 

Kaverappa made his first-class debut against Puducherry in March 2022, in the cut-short season of the Ranji Trophy in 2021-22. He debuted in Karnataka's last league match, and they exited the tournament in the Quarter Finals. There were only few opportunities for him to impress. 

Interestingly, Kaverappa’s debut game was also the last FC match played by Prasidh Krishna, who has been out of the set-up due to recurring injuries. In the absence of their premier pacer, Karnataka needed one newbie to step up in the 2022/23 season of the Ranji trophy, and Kaverappa ensured that they barely missed their spearhead.

In his first game of the season, he picked up a four-for in the first innings against Services. In the fourth match, against Chhattisgarh, the pacer from Karnataka bagged his maiden five-wicket haul in FC. In the Semi-final against Saurashtra, the Coorgi picked up his second five-for. 

In the recent Ranji season, Kaverappa missed only one match (against Kerala). He bagged 30 wickets at a staggering average of 20.4 and a strike rate of 47.1 in the eight remaining matches. He was Karnataka's second-highest wicket-taker after Vyshak Vijaykumar (31) and Krishnappa Gowtham (31). 

He had picked at least two wickets nine times across the season; only Bengal’s Akash Deep had achieved this in more innings (10).

Owing to the COVID outbreak in 2020, the 2019/20 Ranji season winners (Saurashtra) played in the 2022 Irani Cup, and the 2021/22 winner (Madhya Pradesh) in 2023. As the recent one was based on the previous edition's performances (2021/22), Kaverappa did not feature in the Rest of India squad. However, it couldn't stop him from leading the pace attack for South Zone in the 2023 Duleep Trophy. 

In red-ball cricket since December 2022, the medium pacer has picked up 45 wickets at an astounding average of 17.6 and a strike rate of 41.1. In this period, only Avesh Khan (49) has more than Kaverappa among pacers (India). Among pacers who have bowled 150+ overs, his average of 17.6 is the fourth-best.

Adding his two matches from the 2021/22 Ranji season, Vidwath has 49 wickets in 12 games. He has snaffled a wicket every 18.7 runs and 43.1 balls.  

Success not limited only to the longer format

Before his success in the longer format, Kaverappa had created a strong impression in the limited-overs format. 

Following a successful stint in the Maharaja T20 Trophy (2022), where he was the joint-leading wicket-taker (17), he made his T20 debut in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022 (SMAT). 

He kick-started his T20 career with a three-wicket haul against Maharashtra (3/19 in four overs). Only against Kerala he did not pick a wicket. In the remaining seven, he had two-plus wickets in five innings. With 18 wickets in that season, he was the second-highest wicket-taker. 

In his debut season itself, Kaverappa was amongst the records. His 18 wickets were the second-most for a Karnataka bowler in a season of SMAT. In the 2019/20 season, Shreyas Gopal had one more wicket than Kaverappa. More to his glory, Kaverappa's 18 wickets were the joint most for a debutant in a season of SMAT. 

The pacer picked up those 18 wickets at a strike rate of 10.1 and an average of 10.7. Among bowlers who had bowled 20+ overs, his balls/wicket ratio was the best and runs/wicket was the second-best. 

As the saying "when it rains, it pours" goes, success for the Karnataka pacer did not stop. In the 2022/23 season of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT), he bagged 17 wickets in eight matches. 

He picked a wicket every 13.2 runs and 22.4 balls while conceding 3.5 runs per over. Among bowlers who had bowled 30+ overs in that season of VHT, only Vasuki Koushik (11.7) and Kuldeep Sen (12.7) had a better average than him. 

An average of 18.7 in 12 FC games, 13.2 in eight List-A, and 10.7 in eight T20s, a dream beginning that every aspiring cricketer longs for. There is no element of doubt that the trailer of Kaverappa has caught the eyes of everyone. 

Will it be a blockbuster in the longer run? Or will the second-season syndrome catch up to him? For now, he looks unstoppable. More than Karnataka, India will root for success from a player like Kaverappa. Why wouldn't they, when India are yearning for an all-format bowler?

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