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5 Indian teenage sensations who failed to cement their place in the national side

  • These 5 cricketers broke into the national side at a very young age.
  • However, they were just unable to live up to the incredible expectations.
Aadya Sharma
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Top 5 / Top 10
Modified 24 Apr 2020, 15:58 IST

Sachin Tendulkar
Sachin Tendulkar's selection as a 16-year-old raised a lot of eyebrows.

When he started off as a 16-year old for the Indian team, Sachin Tendulkar’s selection as an inexperienced, young teenager grabbed a lot of eyeballs. As a teenager, the world is in front of you, and the sky is the limit. However, handling a young sensation is a significant task for coaches, as the fear of peaking too early or losing the way are always there.

Here’s a look at five teenage sensations from India, who showed immense potential when they made their debut for the national side, but failed to cement a permanent spot in the team.

1. Piyush Chawla

Piyush Chawla made his debut for India at the age of 17.
Piyush Chawla made his debut for India at the age of 17.

Piyush Chawla first created ripples in the Indian cricketing circles in 2005 Challenger Trophy when he bowled Sachin Tendulkar with a googly. Earmarked for a bright future, the 17-year old was fast-tracked into the national side to face England in a Test series. A nervous debut saw him being targetted by Kevin Pietersen, and he was taken off early from the attack by the skipper, Rahul Dravid. With Anil Kumble’s impending retirement and Harbhajan Singh's indifferent form, Chawla was expected to be handed over a prominent role in the team.

As he played more matches for the national team, his stock delivery, the leg-spin, kept disappearing, with him relying more on his variations: the googly and the flipper. Part of the 2011 World Cup-winning side, he could not garner enough confidence in the eyes of the selectors to be given a long run. He last played for India in 2012.

2. Laxmi Ratan Shukla

A veteran for the Bengal team, Shukla could play just three matches for India.
A veteran for the Bengal team, Shukla could play just three matches for India.

The 39-year old retired from first-class in 2015, having resigned from captaincy as well. He took a leap into politics, but few people remember that he debuted for the Indian team at the age of 17 in 1999. 3 ODIs later, he was out of the side and despite playing first-class for 17 more years, plus a few editions of the IPL, he could never stage a comeback. A medium-pace bowler and a hard-hitting batsman, Shukla was the all-rounder India needed.

“Bittu”, as is he is affectionately called, played 137 first-class matches for Bengal, scoring 6217 runs and taking 172 wickets. However, his horrid debut, where he gave 32 runs in four overs, will stay as an unpleasant memory in his unfulfilled international career.

3. Narendra Hirwani

Hirwani holds the record for best match figures on Test debut.
Hirwani holds the record for best match figures on Test debut.
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As a bowler, Narendra Hirwani is the answer to the trivia question: Who took the most wickets on Test debut? A 19-year old teenager from Uttar Pradesh, Hirwani took 16 wickets against the West Indies at Chennai (Madras) in 1987. However, a certain Anil Kumble made his mark for the national side a few years later, and Hirwani couldn’t hang on to his spot.

In an international career that ended prematurely, Hirwani picked up 66 wickets from 17 Tests and 23 from 18 ODIs. He finally retired from first-class in 2006, after a 23-year career. Hirwani made his foray into the Selection Committee and became part of the National Selection Panel in 2008. However, the promise of a bespectacled leg-spinner who showed immense potential on debut remained unfulfilled.

4. Laxman Sivaramakrishnan

Sivaramakrishnan made his India debut at the age of 17.
Sivaramakrishnan made his India debut at the age of 17.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan’s unfulfilled promise can be gauged from the fact that his career ended at the age of 21. In an international career that started at the age of 17, the leg-break bowler from Tamil Nadu picked up 26 wickets in 9 Tests. He started on the right note on his debut against the West Indies and played prominent roles in a Test win against England and India’s success in the World Championship of Cricket in 1985.

His form tailed off henceforth, and his role in the team gradually decreased. He played first-class till the late 90s, but more was expected from the ‘boy wizard’ from Madras.

5. Jaydev Unadkat

Unadkat was fast-tracked into the national side against South Africa as a 19-year old.
Unadkat was fast-tracked into the national side against South Africa as a 19-year old.

The unavailability of Zaheer Khan for a Test in South Africa gave Jaydev Unadkat his first Test cap in 2010. As a 19-year old, the pressure of performing proved too tough to handle, as he gave away 101 runs without picking up any wicket.

He was earmarked for a bright future by the legendary Wasim Akram, under whose tutelage Unadkat played for the Kolkata Knight Riders. Decent outings in the IPL gave him one more shot at the national spot, this time in the limited-overs format, but Unadkat couldn’t manage enough to cement a permanent place.

He played the 2016 tour of Zimbabwe, but was unable to make an impact, yet again. At 28, he could still make a comeback to the Indian team at some point in his career.


Published 30 Jun 2016, 13:00 IST
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