The world needs more seam-bowling prospects, and Rajneesh Gurbani is the perfect example for it. The abrupt seam movement that catches the world's finest batsmen off-guard is a skill that Gu...Full profile
The world needs more seam-bowling prospects, and Rajneesh Gurbani is the perfect example for it. The abrupt seam movement that catches the world's finest batsmen off-guard is a skill that Gurbani has mastered in the domestic circuit, as the wiry young pacer set the 2017/18 edition of the Ranji trophy ablaze.
Hailing from Nagpur, Gurbani made his Ranji debut relatively late in October 2016 at the age of 23, after impressing in age-group cricket. Gurbani impressed in his debut season with a couple of four-wicket hauls, but Indian cricket was suddenly rich in terms of fast-bowling talent and this performance didn't quite make the cut for the selectors.
The young pacer didn't impress much in the limited-overs fixtures over the year, but come the 2017/18 season of the Ranji trophy, Gurbani's dream run started. He picked up an unprecedented 39 wickets in six matches for Vidarbha, who had a topsy-turvy ride to a fairytale title victory. Gurbani was the go-to man in the league stages, picking up wickets at important stages and was crucially backed up by the team's batsmen. He however saved his best for the knockouts and conjured up his best performances in pressure cooker situations.
After ravaging through Kerela in the quarter-final with 7 wickets, Gurbani returned with a stunning 12-wicket haul in the semi-final against the much-hyped Karnataka side, featuring some of the country's best batsmen, as Vidarbha edged Karnataka in one of the most thrilling knockout encounters in the history of the Ranji Trophy. The final, once again, was a one-sided affair as an emotional Vidarbha side coasted to victory on the 4th day, riding the brilliance of Gurbani, who scalped 8 wickets in the match, including a hat-trick in the first innings which put Vidarbha firmly on the front seat and right on track to make history on the first evening of 2018.
A raw talent with a rather diminutive figure, Gurbani manages to extract seam movement even on the dry and crumbling pitches of India. In addition, his ability to swing the ball at a reasonable pace (mid-130s) makes him quite an all-round package. A larger frame, and consequently, another yard of pace can make Gurbani a much more potent threat to the opposition, and he has already attracted the selectors' eyes for national reckoning. With a plethora of seam bowlers already in the fringes, Gurbani might find it difficult to find an immediate spot in the national side, especially due to his absence from the IPL. Nevertheless, it will be India's loss if they forego a talent like Rajneesh Gurbani, who is just another big performance away from knocking the selectors' door right down off its hinges.
By Rishi Roy