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R Sai Kishore, a familiar name in Tamil Nadu and Indian domestic circuit, has just lifted the IPL 2022 title with Gujarat Titans. A proper underrated player in an underrated team. In the four games he played this season, he took six wickets with a good economy rate in the middle overs. Here’s the story of a former super king.

Sai Kishore was roped in as a net bowler by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and eventually made to the squad that lifted the IPL trophy in 2021. But even after spending three years under the tutelage of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, he did not get his dream debut.

This was odd because Chennai usually give chances to proven performers. But the addition of Mo Ali and Shivam Dube in the last two years was the final nail in the coffin for Sai.

Sai Kishore has maintained a superb record in Syed Mustaq Ali trophy, India’s domestic T20 competition. The 25-year-old has played over 40 T20 matches, taking 47 wickets within an economy rate of 5.62.

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The slow left arm orthodox bowler has been a consistent name in Dinesh Karthik-led Tamil Nadu team. In the 2021, Syed Mustaq Ali trophy final, Sai Kishore bagged three wickets and completely derailed the Karnataka innings. That eventually became the turning point with Tamil Nadu winning the game by six wickets. Sai ended the tournament with 10 wickets in eight matches at an economy of 6.06. This speaks volumes about his potential.

But, Chennai remains a feather in his young cricketing career. “Being with CSK has been a huge plus, my game has got better. If you practise with the best of the best, you will automatically get better,” Sai was quoted as saying by PTI in 2021.

Fast forward to 2022. Chennai did not bother to buy him back as they had other priority areas to focus during the auction. Gujarat Titans splashed a whooping Rs 3 crore on a domestic left arm finger spinner, much to the surprise of many.

Although initially he was kept on bench, Sai finally got his ‘dream’ debut at the fag end of the tournament. In a game against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG), Hardik Pandya-led Titans handed Sai Kishore his first ever IPL game. The emotions were palpable. And he did not disappoint.

In the two overs that Sai bowled, he took two wickets conceding just seven runs. Titans went on to beat LSG by 62 runs. The Lucknow team led by KL Rahul were bowled out for just 82.

In Gujarat Titans match against CSK on May 15, CSK were bundled out for 133, with Sai ending with figures: 4-0-31-1

Loss for CSK?
Yes and no. No, because CSK usually have a set template. There is no space for a left arm orthodox bowler until Jadeja decides to hang his boots. Same was the case with Washington Sundar, although he was not part of Chennai setup ever. The likes of Moeen Ali or Santner are slated to continue for years to come and Tamil boys have to look elsewhere for opportunities.

Yes, because sometimes destiny plays its hand very well. In Gujarat Titans match against CSK on May 15, Sai Kishore played his second IPL game. CSK were bundled out for 133, with Sai ending with figures: 4-0-31-1. CSK lacked intent and Kishore did not let them have it either. This is a lesson for CSK. When alternative, Indian players are available, sometimes, only sometimes, it is good to bet on them.

Nevertheless, Sai Kishore will cherish his IPL 2022 title with Gujarat. But in a parallel universe, it would have been nice to see him play a major role in CSK’s title triumph. There is nothing like winning the title for your home team.

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