EXCLUSIVE: It’s Important that Selectors Persist with Prasidh Krishna, Says Venkatesh Prasad
G VISWANATH & G KRISHNAN
In April 2019, former Australia pacer Brett Lee picked out two Indian fast bowlers and put them in the promising lot. A genuine quick of his time for the Baggy Green, Lee named Delhi’s Navdeep Saini and Karnataka’s Prasidh Krishna, and predicted a good future for them. Lee played 76 Tests, sent down 16,531 balls, much of it testing the speed gun, and took 310 wickets. The Australian also played 221 one-day internationals and took 380 wickets.
At a promotional event two years ago in Mumbai, he wondered if the cricketing world had any genuine fast bowler worth mentioning, but revealed that among Indians, Saini and Krishna had caught his attention. Responding to a specific question on Indian fast bowlers, Lee said: “It’s my dream to find the next Indian fast bowler. I am impressed with the current Indian fast bowlers. Jasprit Bumrah, to me, has been a class act. He has got good pace and a different action. Prasidh (Krishna) has been bowling at 145kmph or thereabouts in this IPL. Then Saini, he is another promising fast bowler coming through. The pleasing thing about the current Indian fast bowlers is that they have got good pace.”
Lee emphasised that both Krishna and Saini have nice actions. “I do believe that these bowlers can go quicker by fine-tuning their approach, their action and follow through.” Since Lee expressed encouraging words for the two fast bowlers, Saini has made some progress, playing two Test matches, seven ODIs for the men in blue and ten Twenty20 matches. Krishna is yet to be seen in action for India.
The present national selection committee, which has four fast-medium bowlers in Chetan Sharma, Abey Kuruvilla, Harvinder Singh and Debasis Mohanty and a spinner in Sunil Joshi have given the first national call to the 25-year-old Bengaluru-born Krishna. Ironically, Krishna has got the nod at the expense of Saini, whose six ODI wickets has cost him nearly 76 runs each.
‘I began bowling fast when I was 17’
Krishna, who is in Pune, venue of the three ODIs against England, and going through the mandatory isolation and being in the bio-secure bubble, has been part of the school and college cricket and also the Karnataka State Cricket Association’s training and competition structure.
He was introduced to fast bowling by former Karnataka Ranji Trophy player, P Srinivasa Murthy at Carmel School, Padmanabha Nagar, Bengaluru.
“I was in Class 6 when I started to bowl fast. I was playing a lot of tennis ball cricket before playing with hardball. I was a tall boy already in school. I am 6’2” now. Mr. Shankar was in charge of sports at Jain University and the coach there was Nidhuvan. I think when I was 17, and while playing for the State under-19 team, I really began to bowl fast,” Krishna told news18.com.
The new kid on the fast bowling block also revealed that the State team was strong with a lot of fast bowlers and hence did not figure in two Ranji Trophy seasons after making his debut and that he was a regular in the under-23 team. Krishna, who is a part of the MRF Pace Foundation, said that he has learned a lot in line and length, maintaining discipline and remaining composed. “He (McGrath) is at the Foundation in Chennai. I still go to the Foundation and have travelled with the MRF team to Australia,” Krishna added.
Krishna has very good height to get extra bounce: Venkatesh Prasad
Former Karnataka and India medium-pacer who manipulated the seam with supreme expertise, BK Venkatesh Prasad, is glad that Krishna has got the break. Prasad told news18.com: “Honestly speaking, I have not seen him much. I have heard quite a bit about his skills. The first and foremost is that he has got height. This is extremely important for a fast bowler, especially to get the extra bounce. In India’s bowling line-up, I don’t think other than Ishant Sharma, anyone else is a six-footer. Maybe Mohammad Siraj. Umesh Yadav maybe 5’11”, but not Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvneshwar.
“What strikes one about Krishna is his height, he must be 6’2”. That’s a very good height to get the extra bounce. He also has a high-arm action. He doesn’t run in very quickly to the bowling crease. Shami, Siraj and Umesh run in quickly. Bumrah jogs in, isn’t? But Krishna generates pace at the last minute because of his long levers. He was in and out of the Karnataka team, probably because of injuries. But he has been doing well in the last three seasons.
“That’s the reason the selectors have selected him for the ODIs. He is a very good pick. Another Karnataka bowler after Roger Binny, Srinath, myself, David Johnson, Dodda Ganesh, Mithun and Vinay Kumar in the Indian team.” Prasad also felt the selectors wanted to try different bowlers who have done well in domestic tournaments. “They want to try them in ODIs and Twenty20 matches. In Test cricket, which is the purest form, you need to pick the best XI. At age 22 or 23, a bowler is much more matured. Varun Aaron was very quick, but he did not probably understand the lines and lengths. Prasidh has done well, he has got the opportunity, but it’s important that the selectors persist with him. I think the selectors are trying to build a good bench strength of fast bowlers. Now there must be some 8 to 10 fast bowlers,” Prasad, 51, who played 33 Tests and picked up 96 wickets and 161 ODIs for 196 scalps, said.
BK Ravi, a Bengaluru-based BCCI umpire, is proud of Krishna’s selection into the national team. Ravi, whose son BR Sharath is the Karnataka wicketkeeper, told news18.com: “Prasidh started at the Basavanagudi Cricket Academy and plays for Mount Joy CC in the Karnataka State Cricket Association tournaments. I am very happy for him. He is the first player from our club to reach the top.”
Krishna has been around the domestic circuit for five years. He has played nine first-class matches and taken 34 wickets at 20.26, 48 List A (50 overs) matches and taken 81 wickets at 22.90 including 14 wickets at 22.21 in the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy. He has also played 40 T20 matches and taken 33 wickets at 35.84 including 24 IPL matches for 18 wickets at 44.50. The numbers look excellent, a reason why he has impressed the selectors and also the Indian team management which has seen him in action at the India nets.
He can consistently bowl 140kmph: Senthilnathan
Like many young and upcoming pace bowlers feeling a bit low after performing well in the domestic circuit but not getting the selectors’ nod for the highest level, Krishna was also feeling a bit low around a year ago. He missed a good part of the 2019-20 season due to a stress fracture of the fibula injury.
A chat with the chief coach of the MRF Pace Foundation in Chennai, M Senthilnathan did a world of good for him. Recounting the day when Krishna spoke with Senthilnathan, the latter told news18.com: “He was feeling a bit low on confidence during Covid last year. He told me he was giving his best but not getting the selectors’ call. I told him there was nothing bad to feel about. I told him, ‘it is not your mistake that the selectors have not noticed you. You have to be worried if you are not practicing at all. But, you are doing a fine job as the strike bowler of the Karnataka team and that day would not be far away when the selectors notice you’. I was feeding him with positives and he said he felt a lot better.”
Senthilnathan picked Krishna for the MRF Pace Foundation after selection trials and was inducted in January 2017. “What impressed me first was his height. His strength is speed and bounce. He had a natural bounce with a high-arm action, something that was similar to Javagal Srinath. He has a good bounce. That’s what actually impressed me. Probably, he wasn’t accurate then as he is today. He learnt the art of pace bowling in due course besides doing weight training,” Senthilnathan said.
Krishna was a part of the exchange programme that MRF PF has with Australia’s High Performance Centre in Brisbane and learnt more tricks of the trade during a two-week trip there in 2019. Senthilnathan said: “He is a good potential, suitable for all formats. He has been a proven bowler in T20s for KKR. He has clocked 149kmph and above in IPL. The boy can bowl an average of 140-plus. With extra bounce, he will be a tough customer to handle.”
Senthilnathan spoke with Krishna soon after the recent Vijay Hazare Trophy. Senthilnathan said: “Being the strike bowler for Karnataka, Krishna said he did not bowl bad balls and that he was attacking the batsmen in order to take wickets in the first 15 overs. He said with extra bounce, the mishits were flying over he slips for boundaries or over the wicketkeeper. His bowling must have impressed the selectors.”
Karnataka head coach Yere Goud, under whom Krishna made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2018-19, said: “His inswinging deliveries are more effective, with a lot of wickets in the form of LBW and bowled. Krishna has been doing well for the last few years and got back his rhythm in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year.”
From feeling low last year, Krishna is on a high with the India call, and the onus is on him to live up to his potential.