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Why Is This Fine Talent Not Playing The IPL?

Last updated on: March 05, 2024 13:30 IST
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'I was confident that I would surely get into any of the IPL teams but I was not picked.'

IMAGE: Tanush Kotian has emerged as one of Mumbai's key players in recent seasons across formats ever since making his debut in the 2018-2019 season. Photograph: Tanush Kotian/Instagram

Mumbai's Tanush Kotian is one of the most impressive players in recent domestic cricket seasons.

Primarily, a spin bowling all-rounder, Kotian has been one of Mumbai's top contributors with the bat this season. In the 2023-2024 Ranji Trophy, the 25 year old smashed a century while batting at No 10 in the quarter-final against Baroda and a vital 89 not out in the semi-final against Tamil Nadu, along with four fifties in the league stages.

In the quarter-final, he etched his name in the records book as he along with Tushar Deshpande, both of whom hit a century , became only the second No. 10 and No. 11 batters to score a hundred in the same First Class match.

Kotian, who made his debut in the 2018-2019 season, has taken 64 wickets in 24 first class games along with scoring 1,042 runs at an impressive average of 41, with 11 fifties and a century.

Despite his superb performances at the domestic level, he has not been picked at the last two IPL auctions.

After playing a key role in Mumbai's Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 title triumph, Kotian was hopeful of getting picked at his first IPL auction in December 2022 but he was stranded as none of the franchises showed interest.

"I had done well in the trials, I was happy with my performances in the trials, but I didn't bother about whether I would be picked or not, I just enjoyed my game," Tanush Kotian tells's Harish Kotian.

A century batting at No. 10, also your first in first class cricket, during the quarter-finals against Baroda, how satisfied are you with your achievement with the bat considering your primary role is of a bowler?

I would say I am playing in the Mumbai team as an all-rounder so my role is to get runs as well. We have quality batters like Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and others, so Shams Mulani and me are the other all-rounders, we have the responsibility to put together some partnerships lower order and push up the total as much as we can. We both are confident that we can play a role with both bat and ball.

IMAGE: Tanush Kotian, right, and Tushar Deshpande, both of whom hit a century against Baroda in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, became only the second No. 10 and No. 11 batters to score a hundred in the same First Class match. Photograph: MCA

It must have been a relief to finally get a century having fallen in the 90s once in the last couple of seasons.

This was my first century after scoring 10 fifties in first class cricket. This was my first century and it meant a lot to me.

A century is always difficult when you so low down in the order, maybe you can at the most hit a fifty.

I used to build partnerships with tailenders and get fifties but getting a century was proving to be difficult, so I was very happy to get it this time.

You and Tushar Deshpande became only the second No. 10 and No. 11 batters to score a hundred in the same First Class match. Tell us about your partnership, what kept you both going?

The partnership with Tushar Deshpande was amazing. We used to chat in between overs that we will take a chance in between and if we get a ball in your zone then we will try to hit it for a six and we were able to do that.

We were getting loose balls every over and we had to make sure we hit it for a four or a six. We also defended well, if they bowled good balls then we showed it respect. We were taking it six balls at a time, not looking far ahead other than the over we were facing.

You have become quite an important player for Mumbai this Ranji Trophy season and making vital contributions with both bat and ball.
You are the second highest run-getter for your team this season with 481 runs in nine games with a century and five fifties at an average of 48, while picking up 22 wickets at an average of 17.

I have done well in the previous seasons too with both bat and ball. I know my role as to how I have to bat and I play accordingly.

Getting runs has given me the confidence in my batting, I know I can score in every match.

Right from age group cricket, I have been playing this role of scoring runs down the order so it is something that I am accustomed to.=

What went into your decision to take up cricket as a young kid in Mumbai?

It was really tough when I started out. I had problems getting selected to the teams I played for, so I had to make sure I scored runs when I batted and took wickets when I bowled. I studied till 7th standard at the St Joseph School in Vikhroli (north east Mumbai) before I shifted to the V N Sule Guruji English Medium School in Dadar (north central Mumbai) so I had to travel early mornings with my kit bags in packed trains and same in the evening when I had to make my way back during rush hours in the evening.

So those years were difficult for me initially. But after I played for India Under-19 some things got easier for me.

I remember when I made my debut in first class cricket, I struggled in the first two games. I think I was not ready for first class cricket at that time. So those two games gave me an idea of the level of first class cricket, and from that point I knew I had to work hard if I have to reach that level.

My dad Karunakar Kotian played a lot of cricket. He has been my big inspiration to take up cricket.

My father used to be the king of tennis ball cricket in Mumbai. He didn't have money that time to take up leather ball cricket so he played only tennis ball cricket.

In my childhood, I used to watch dad play tennis ball games so I learnt some aspects of my game from him like street-smartness. I also started playing tennis ball cricket in my locality which helped improve my game too.

I believe my dad was a big reason in me becoming a cricketer.

Who taught you the finer aspects of spin bowling?

When I was in the 10th standard my dad took me to Rajesh Sanil Sir, who taught me a lot about batting. Even today also I practice at his academy whenever I get time.

Whereas my bowling is concerned, I have worked on my bowling myself, I have had no coach to teach me about spin bowling. Whatever I learnt over the years is by bowling in the nets and by practicing my bowling.

I feel I don't need anyone to teach me, I have learnt to develop my bowling and how to do it. My dad has helped me with my bowling, he has been sort of a bowling coach.

How could you develop your bowling without a coach?

I would say it is all because of practice. I never skipped a single practice session. Whenever I went into a practice session, I used to tell myself that I have to learn something new today.

I didn't go through the routines in the practice sessions, I tried to learn something new and when I played a match I used to try whatever I learnt in the practice sessions. That gave me the confidence as a bowler.

Did you look up to any spinner or watch videos of spinners and tried to learn off the field?

In red ball cricket, I would say Ravichandran Ashwin is a legendary spinner. I also admire Ravindra Jadeja because he can bowl and bat, I also like to watch Nathan Lyon.

I look at their bowling, how they bowl, how they read the different batsmen, how they plan against them, how they get them out, all such things. I try and watch each and every international match, if I miss some match because I am out, I go home later and watch the highlights.

As an off-spinner, what type of deliveries do you bowl which you have developed on your own?

Off-spin is my stock delivery, I have the straighter one, arm ball, quicker delivery, carrom ball... All these deliveries I have learnt on my own by putting the hard yards in practice and perfecting them.

IMAGE: Tanush Kotian has bowled in all matches for Mumbai across formats without being reported in the last couple of years. Photograph: Tanush Kotian/Instagram

You faced a setback at the IPL auction because your bowling action had come into question a couple of years ago. How tough a setback was it because you have been bowling without any issues in the last two years?

Mumbai was the winner of the 2022-2023 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (the national T20 tournament) and I was the man of the match in the final against Himachal Pradesh. I had taken 3 wickets (3/15 in four overs) and hit a six in the final over to win the final match for Mumbai.

I was confident that I would surely get into any of the IPL teams, but I was not picked. I kept thinking about it for a few days as to what I need to do now.

There was disappointment, but I told myself that I do well in every match that I played from that point onwards, I will give my 100 percent in every match and perform well for the team.

Had your spoken to any of the franchises? Did you undergo trials with any team?

I had gone for the trials and I had also spoken to a few IPL teams. I went for the trials this time, but I kept no expectations that I have to be selected because I had learnt from the past.

I had done well in the trials, I was happy with my performances in the trials, but I didn't bother about whether I would be picked or not, I just enjoyed my game.

When did the controversy start because your bowling was never reported in any match?

It was in the 2022-2023 Mushtaq Ali Trophy when the match referee called me regarding one delivery, but I never got to see the clip of that delivery which he mentioned.

After that I have played each and every game for Mumbai in the last two years, but my action has never been reported.

That match referee called me for no reason and after that I am playing continuously but nothing has happened. I went to Chennai to get my action tested, but the test never happened because of some technical problem.

Would say the question mark remains against your bowling considering the snub at the IPL auction despite such fine showing for Mumbai?

My action has never been called, my coaches and team-mates have also said there is nothing with my bowling. I have now decided to get my action cleared for once and for all once this season ends.

I will approach the Mumbai Cricket Association and tell them to take up the matter with the BCCI and I am ready to do whatever needs to be done. I am ready to undergo tests to prove my bowling is legal.

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