Mayank Markande had just demolished the England Lions with an impressive 5/31 to help India A register a comprehensive win by an innings-and-68-run win inside three days in the second and final unofficial Test, in Mysore. But moments later Friday just got better for the 21-year-old after being included in the Indian T20I side which will face Australia in the two-match series from February 24.
But the India call-up is a bolt from the blue for the youngster who has been in impressive form over the past few months. "Get a national call-up is the biggest achievement in a player’s career. To be honest I was not expecting this. I did not think I would get included the national set-up this early. I consider myself really lucky," said Markande.
The last one year has been "amazing" for Markande where he played 7 first-class matches and picked up 34 wickets at an average of 21.26 (including three five-wicket hauls.) But he attributes his India call-up to years of hard work.
"My performances in the Ranji Trophy along with meaningful performances for India A must have been noticed by the selectors. and I am really happy that they have given me a chance to prove myself," he said.
Born and brought up in Bathinda, Markande started off as a fast bowler and had mastered the art of bowling the back-of-the-hand slower delivery but then his coach suggested he could be a more effective leg spinner. Hence, he converted Markande’s slower ball into a fine googly- a decision which reaped huge rewards.
Markande made his under-16 debut for Punjab in the Vijay Merchant Trophy during the 2013-14 season. In seven outings he bagged 29 wickets at an impressive average of 18.24.
Graduating from junior cricket to the next level, Markande once again made his mark in the Vijay Hazare Trophy (2017-18). Thereafter IPL franchise Mumbai Indians invited him for trials and secured his service for 20 lakhs.
However, what caught everyone’s attention was his debut for Mumbai Indians in IPL 2018 when he trapped MS Dhoni LBW for a duck. In a memorable season, he was the leading wicket-taker at one point in IPL 2018 before ending with a tally of 15 wickets at an average of 24.53 (including one four-wicket haul).
When asked how what role the IPL had played, Markande said, "I have gained maximum exposure from IPL and since I got the break in IPL my game has improved."
Markande made his debut for Mumbai Indians under the leadership of Rohit Sharma in the IPL. "Sharing the Indian dressing room with Rohit Sharma will be special. He had motivated me a lot during the IPL. I always kept talking to him. He is a legend of the game now so I always try to learn as much as possible from him," said Markande.
When asked what he will be looking forward to incase he is handed the India cap, Markande said, "As for now I am not even thinking about getting in the playing XI. But if I do then having MS Dhoni keep for me will be special."
The atmosphere in his hometown is also full of festivity where his father is an inspector working with Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) in Patiala and the mother runs a clothing boutique. "I told my parents today evening and they are all in a celebratory mood. I am really looking forward to meeting them and celebrate the occasion," he signed off.