Young pacer Kartik Tyagi doesn’t mind being hit for a six or four. He smiles at the batsman, and the piercing gaze is more that of a predator than the hunted as is often the case with bowlers in T20 cricket. Then, it is the 19-year-old’s way of trying to psyche out a batsman. It does work.
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Take Monday night’s IPL clash between his Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings. The wiry Tyagi, sharing powerplay duties with England spearhead Jofra Archer, shows why he is handed the task. He digs one short with a smooth hit-the-deck action, and Shane Watson pulls it to midwicket for four.
Watson is amused as the ‘kid’ moves down the pitch, glares and smiles at the Aussie. A very familiar trait? The next delivery is pitched up, and this time Watson is lucky as the under-edge races behind the keeper for four. The next one is inviting on the pads and he flicks, only to the mid wicket trap.
Tyagi marks wicket No. 6 from as many IPL games in his debut season–one per game and each a top batsman.
The bowler from Uttar Pradesh’s Hapur town shows he is on the right track even in death overs. Despite being hit for consecutive boundaries by Ravindra Jadeja, Tyagi stays aggressive, troubling Jadeja and MS Dhoni with lifting deliveries. It helps peg back CSK, setting up a seven-wicket win for Royals.
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“That’s his nature. He always shows a big heart even after being hit for a six or four. You can see his aggression by the way he pumps his fist or raises his hands after bagging a wicket,” Tyagi’s coach Vipin Vats says.
“Tyagi’s approach to his deliveries, especially the one that kicks up, makes his position strong even against a batsman like Shane Watson. Even after hitting two consecutive boundaries off Tyagi, he was foxed the third delivery,” adds Vats.
A fine keeper-batsman in domestic cricket in the 90s, Vats taught the finer points of the game to Tyagi on a ‘self-made’ turf pitch in the bowler’s village near Hapur. Among young Indians who increasingly show the heart to take on the demanding job of fast bowling, Tyagi from day one focused on accuracy with pace.
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“The turf wicket in his village has been my favourite training place. We spend a lot of time there during training. His focus on line and length always impressed me. His height (6’3”) is an added advantage with strength and speed,” says Vats. “I always teach him bowling with a batsman’s perspective.”
Tyagi is India’s latest product from an impressive run in the U-19 World Cup. In the South Africa edition early this year, he took 11 wickets, including a game-changing 4/24 against Australia in the last eight. India finished runners-up.
The youngster has impressed with his ability to move the ball at pace in his first IPL. “His focus on bowling a good length makes him ‘extraordinary’; I always backed him as the leading bowler in the U-19 team,” former junior national selector Gyanendra Pandey says.
Tyagi has steadily developed since the age of 11. He showed his class at U-14 level and continued his successful run in the Cooch Behar Trophy U-19 tournament, taking 50 wickets. That success earned a 17-year-old Tyagi a call-up to the Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy side in the 2017-18 season for his only first-class game to date.
Nine wickets in five games in the Youth ODI series in England and six wickets off three against Afghanistan U-19 later, he drew the attention of RR.
Tyagi’s start to IPL 2020 was impressive—he had Mumbai Indians opener Quinton de Kock in his first over. The pacer banged in short and de Kock top-edged a pull to be caught by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler.
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“Even before that delivery, I was sure of a short one from Tyagi as he always bowls such a delivery if someone tries to step out to hit him; as soon as the ball struck de Kock’s bat I was sure it was a wicket for Tyagi,” says Vats.
Tyagi lists the scalps of Shreyas Iyer (DC), Virat Kohli (RCB), Shimron Hetmyer (DC) and Jonny Bairstow (SRH) before Watson—showcasing talent in a high-profile league, and promising a lot more.