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I don't go by names, it's the quality of the ball that counts: Badani

Hemang Badani
Hemang 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.

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