Hemang Badani: This lefthander is just right
Hemang Badani is a compact looking batsman who promises to be a long-term player for India on the international scene. It is not a particularly congenial moment for a middle order batsman to press his claim for an India cap because of a surfeit of talent at the domestic level. By dint of perseverance, Badani has forced his way into the squad and will be mindful of grabbing every little opportunity he gets to display his not inconsiderable talents.
More than the runs he accumulated in the 1999-2000 domestic season, it was Badani's steely temperament that made an overwhelming impression on the selectors and coach of the Indian team. His selection to the Asia Cup squad in May was hardly a surprise, coming, as it did, just after a splendid performance in the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Mumbai. Two combative but elegant knocks of 162 & 63 drew praise from all including Sachin Tendulkar. He strokes the ball without discrimination to all parts of the ground with a touch of elan, and his front foot drive played on the rise through the covers is especially pleasing.
The 24-year-old left hander made his first class debut in the 1996-97 season after a fine showing for India Under-19 against South Africa at home. Badani starred in the Ranji one-dayer against Kerala with a battling 75 not out that pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for Tamil Nadu and forced a tie. He was immediately inducted into the eleven for the four day game that followed and has never looked back after that satisfying debut. Badani soon stepped up a gear by turning out for India A in the SAARC one-day tournament in Dhaka in 1998.
An occasional slow left arm bowler, Badani is trying to develop this facet of his game as well. "If you're a batsman who could bowl, you can always edge another guy out to get a chance to play in the eleven", he believes. Of course Badani's fleet-footedness in the field, which has won a lot of acclaim, does no harm at all to his chances. After watching the ICC KnockOut from the sidelines, he broke into the team during the Champions Trophy in Sharjah. Badani's presence in the side coincided with an unhappy stretch for India and he will be eager to pull his weight in a winning cause when the five match one-day series against Zimbabwe kicks off this week.