From a ball boy in IPL 2008 to a contracted player in IPL 2019, the Tushar Deshpande story (Exclusive)

Umaima Saeed

Tushar has performed well for Mumbai across formats in the last two seasons

Among the many hopefuls for the Indian Premier League 2020 was Tushar Deshpande, a fast bowler who has excelled across formats for Mumbai in the last two years. The 25-year-old, who was seen bowling at a speed of 146kmph in the recently concluded Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy, has come a long way – from having a persistent problem of overstepping his bowling mark, to getting a chance to work with former Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

In international cricket, Jasprit Bumrah is one of the very few fast bowlers to perform well in all three formats. And in domestic cricket, Tushar is known for the same. The right-arm pacer took 51 wickets from 22 games across formats last season.

Following his IPL contract with the Delhi Capitals, Tushar caught up with Sportskeeda for a quick chat. Here are the excerpts –

Were you expecting to be picked in the IPL? What was your reaction?

Yes, I was expecting to be picked because I have been performing well in the Mushtaq Ali the last two seasons and right now I am in a good ribbon and I think I can make a difference to any of the IPL teams. So I was expecting and I was confident also.

I was disappointed after not being picked in the first round of the auctions and I was just thinking where did I lose out on a contract and how can I improve. I was very upset and I was just hoping that in the second round any team picks me up.

When Delhi picked me, I straight away jumped from my sofa and hugged my grandmother because I was over the moon. I called up by father to inform that I got a bid from the Delhi Capitals. His reaction cannot be explained in words.

Also, I used to go for the Mumbai leg of IPL 2008 as a ball boy with my Under 13 teammates. That time players like Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya were still playing. Seeing them from the boundary rope’s distance used to be a big moment for us. It has been a long journey for me since.

Delhi has some stalwarts in their support staff. Looking forward to lots of new experience?

The Australian attitude is what I am looking forward to learn from Ricky Ponting. I think Ponting’s attitude in the Australian team was such that he was there to make a difference, he loved challenges. And his mind is also what I am hoping to pick. He was the successful captain of Australia for four to five years and the World Cup winning captain in 2003 and 2007. So obviously it will be a great experience working with him.

During the initial phase of your career, you were under the scanner for overstepping too often. How did you rectify this issue?

In my initial days, I used to be excited to bowl and pick wickets and in that process I used to forget my bowling mark and eventually I used to end up bowling no-balls. After that, I thought about it and most importantly I was losing out on the wickets because of the no-balls. That was hurting me and the team also. So I rectified it by putting more attention to the mark. I stopped letting my aggression make me overstep.

Why is overstepping so common among fast bowlers?

I think overstepping for fast bowlers varies from each individual. Some bowlers have very big delivery stride. Some don’t get their rhythm quite consistently. Or some like me out of aggression or excitement forget their run-up mark. So it varies.

Earlier this year, you travelled with the Mumbai team a night after losing your mother. That would have needed a lot of courage on your part...

Yes, I travelled with the Mumbai team after my mother’s death. But the thing is, if I do well in my cricketing career my mother will be happier than anything wherever she is. I know she is watching me from wherever she is. Dad motivated me saying that I should be a soldier, what is gone is gone, just look forward at the opportunity that is coming ahead and you will do well. And hence I went with the Mumbai team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali knockouts.

You bowl well in all three formats, which is not too common among fast bowlers…

As we all know it's challenging to bowl well in all three formats and it is more challenging to bowl in the T20I and ODI format because you have a lot of limitations, field restrictions, the pitches are better and in the batsman’s favour. Test cricket you have a bit of freedom. The red ball swings a bit and in seaming conditions, it seams also so it's good for the bowler. Even in a four-day Ranji trophy game the ball swings.

What do you think makes Mumbai so consistent in domestic cricket?

Mumbai is consistent in domestic cricket because of the brand of cricket we play. The way we play is always attacking. We play to win. Plus the hunger to win in each and every game is very important and we are always hungry. And we perform well in all three formats not just Ranji.

You’ve started the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy season on a good note. Looking forward to better your tally from the last season?

I would love to pick up more wickets than the last season but don’t think of a tally in the end. I just practice well and focus on bowling good balls in any situation of the game. And eventually, if I get wickets I’ll have a better tally this season. But right now I am not aiming at any tally. Just want to do well for the team in the Ranji Trophy and be able to express myself well.

Who is your best guide in the Mumbai team?

My best guide in the Mumbai team is my very close friend Rohan Amladi. He is a video analyst of our team and I know him from my U19 days so we also share our room whenever he is around the team. Being the analyst he gives me inputs on my performances. So he is my best guide in the team.

Who is your fast bowling idol?

My fast bowling idol is Dale Steyn. I just love his attitude. No matter what the condition is or pitch is he just runs hard and bowls his heart out and creates trouble for the batters so that is the thing I love about him. Not every time you get a green pitch on which you pick up wickets but he is a character who can make things happen for the team in any situation. I hope to meet Steyn someday soon.