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From pacer to left-arm spinner: how LSG's M Siddharth made transition

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Bengaluru, Apr 3 (PTI) On a sultry Tuesday night, Virat Kohli’s wicket might have given Manimaran Siddharth the validation he was seeking after turning to left-arm spin from pace bowling some summers ago.

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In the fifth over of the Power Play, his third, Siddharth dismissed Kohli, a leading edge off a fuller ball on the off-stump landing in the hands of Devdutt Padikkal at backward point.

It was the first brick in Lucknow Super Giants’ 28-run win over Royal Challengers Bengaluru in their IPL 2024 match.

“I have always dreamt of taking Kohli's wicket, it's the biggest wicket you can ever take,” Siddharth, who was acquired by LSG for Rs 2.4 crore in last year’s auction, said in the post-match press-conference.

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But the whole journey to this point was not smooth as he had to shift from one country to another and battle with injuries.

Manimaran grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia, till he was eight, and his parents moved to Chennai for their son to have a better crack at a cricketing career.

The turning point of his floating career came when India and Tamil Nadu spinner Washington Sundar, a close friend of Siddharth now, asked him to train with AC Prathiban, a former First-Class cricketer.

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“He came in with a lot of skill sets to me a couple of years ago. Washi was full of praise for him. We were working on the mental aspect more than the skill aspects here.

“After all, at this level it is more in the mind, as players are almost on the same page as far as skills are concerned,” Prathiban told PTI.

Siddharth showed his mental fortitude while accepting LSG head coach Justin Langer’s directive to bowl in the Power Play against RCB.

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Kohli’s well-chronicled weakness against left-arm spin might have played a part in Langer’s call, but it was a big occasion for a cricketer who was playing only his second IPL match.

Siddharth wasn’t overawed. He bowled eight balls to Kohli in the Power Play, conceded seven runs before bagging the star batter’s wicket.

“It is definitely a big thing to take Kohli’s wicket. He is one of the best batsmen of all time. But for me, the presence of mind Siddharth showed to bowl three overs in the Power Play was more satisfying, as even some of the more experienced bowlers can falter,” said Prathiban.

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"He wanted to be a fast bowler, but he did not. That attitude remains in him, I think," he remarked with a chuckle.

However, Siddharth has reasonable experience in bowling in Power Plays as TN skipper Dinesh Karthik had asked him to do the duty in 2019, his debut year in domestic cricket.

He earned an IPL contract at his base price with Kolkata Knight Riders in 2020, and hopped over to Delhi Capitals the next year.

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But an injury forced him to sit out of IPL 2021, and had to be contended with being a net bowler for Mumbai Indians (2022) and Chennai Super Kings (2023).

“He was a bit frustrated but did not show that while training. I just told him to keep working on your skills and the opportunity will come knocking,” noted Prathiban.

That opportunity came during last year’s Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). The 25-year-old took 11 wickets from nine matches for Kovai Kings and his economy was exceptional – 5.61.

“It gave him a lot of confidence that he can be successful at this level consistently. After all nothing breeds confidence like success,” said Prathiban.

Armed with data and eagle-eyed video analysts, batsmen will not take much time to work out a bowler in modern day cricket.

Prathiban was aware of it.

“Siddharth knows that he cannot rest on laurels. The arm ball that you might have seen yesterday, comes naturally to him. We also worked on a bit of accuracy.

“However, he needs more tricks up his sleeve to maintain his success. We have been working on an under-cutter recently, and you might just see it at some point in the IPL.

“I think this is the beginning of a long and successful journey for him,” added Prathiban. PTI UNG AT AT

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