Image courtesy: Saurabh Kumar/Instagram
Saurabh Kumar, the 27-year-old left-arm spinner from Uttar Pradesh, was picked as a net bowler in the extended Indian squad for the series against England. Here’s all you need to know about him.
The numbers behind his rise
Saurabh Kumar’s entry into India’s extended squad stems from his incredible first-class numbers. In 44 games, Saurabh has 192 wickets at an average of 23.44, including 16 five-wicket hauls and six match ten-wicket hauls. 12 of those 16 hauls came in the last two seasons when his performances in the Ranji Trophy shot up admirably.
In the 2018/19 Ranji season, Saurabh Kumar picked up 51 wickets in 10 matches, averaging 17.74 including five five-wicket hauls. In December 2018, he had a massive game against Haryana, picking up 14-65, the second-best match figures by a UP bowler. The 51 wickets were the fifth-best in the season by any bowler.
Just prior to this, Saurabh finished the 2018/19 Duleep Trophy as the leading wicket-taker with 19 wickets in three matches. The following Ranji season, Saurabh was yet again at his best, snaring 44 wickets at an average of 21.09 with five five-wicket hauls.
A spinner who can bat
Primarily a spinner, Saurabh focuses on his main skill a lot, but he has some serious batting performances to show for. The UP lower-order batsman has two first-class hundreds and a batting average of just under 30. Notably, one of the hundreds came in his early seasons with Uttar Pradesh. Saurabh stitched together a 192-run partnership with Kuldeep Yadav to save his side some blushes after a top-order slump.
The Committee also picked five net bowlers and five players as standbys.
Net Bowlers: Ankit Rajpoot, Avesh Khan, Sandeep Warrier, Krishnappa Gowtham, Saurabh Kumar
Standby players: K S Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shahbaz Nadeem, Rahul Chahar, Priyank Panchal#INDvENG
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 19, 2021
Rubbing shoulders with big names
Hailing from the same state, Saurabh Kumar has benefited from Kuldeep’s role in the national team to get game time. The two spinners are said to share a pretty good rapport, with Saurabh revealing in an interview that Kuldeep shares tips with him.
Suresh Raina, meanwhile, was Saurabh Kumar’s captain at domestic level and he has watched the left-arm spinner from close quarters in some of his most impactful performances.
Saurabh was also part of the Rising Pune Supergiant dressing room for the 2017 IPL season and has rubbed shoulders with the likes of MS Dhoni and Steve Smith among others.