I don't go by names, it's the quality of the ball that counts: Badani
Hemang Badani is not like any other youngster who has made it big in
Indian cricket in the recent past. There have been some very exciting
talents, none more so than Yuvraj Singh, who burst onto the scene made
a big impression and slowly fizzled away. Perhaps some of them were
not fully mentally prepared for the big league. Clearly Badani has
been an exception in this regard. After playing his debut ODI against
Bangladesh in the Asia Cup where he made a compact 35, Badani found
himself in and out of the team. This was so only because the team
composition dictated it. The selectors were quick to agree that it was
no reflection on his ability or performance.
"Obviously it is a dream come true. There's no two ways about that. It
is every young cricketer's dream to play for the country in both forms
of the game," said an excited Badani on hearing the news of his
inclusion in the first Test squad to play Australia at Mumbai. Having
not heard the news before, the excitement in his voice was palpable,
the tremor unmistakable. Yet, Badani remained remarkably calm. "It all
started with the knock I played in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against
Mumbai. That one big score I made set the ball rolling. The 162
against Mumbai showed I could play long innings," said the southpaw.
Although Badani said it would be a challenge to play against an all
conquering side like the current Australian side, he was unruffled by
reputations. "The Australians have played tremendous cricket to win so
many games on the trot. You have to appreciate that. But now they are
here in India and it will not be easy for them," explained Badani.
"Playing in India is a completely different ball game, you have to
acknowledge that. Since we are so used to playing in these conditions
we definitely have the advantage," concluded Badani.
In the recently concluded NKP Salve Challenger Trophy Badani made a
chanceless 104 (off just 87 balls) after coming in with the score on
76/4 chasing 312. The southpaw batted India Seniors through in fine
style with a knock of tremendous poise. In that particular innings
Badani repeatedly came down the wicket to the spinners and lofted the
ball effortlessly for six. Will he adopt the same approach even
against someone like Shane Warne? "My greatest strength is that I play
my natural game at all times. You obviously have to make slight
changes to adapt to the longer version of the game," said Badani. And
it would be no different if the bowler was Warne or a club bowler in
his native Chennai. "If the ball is there to be hit and the situation
demands it, I will go for my shots. I don't believe in looking at the
names of the people involved. It's the quality of the ball that
counts. It's that simple and I like to keep it that way," said Badani.
If any confirmation was needed of Badani's maturity as a cricketer and
as an individual, it is now there for all to see.