It has been a long, agonising wait for Sandeep Warrier. It finally came to an end on Thursday night: he is now an India cricketer.
Thirty may not exactly be the right age for a pace bowler to make his international debut. But surely it is better late than never.
And there were times when Warrier wondered whether all his hard work had been in vain. Ever since making his First Class debut nine years ago, he has been talked of as a bowler with great potential. He has played for the India-A teams and in the IPL too, but when it came to the national duty, he didn’t even make the squad.
Even on this tour of Sri Lanka, for which many of the senior players were not available, Warrier wasn’t part of the squad. He was selected as a net bowler.
But for once, lady luck smiled on him. He could make it to the Indian XI for the third T20I against Sri Lanka at Colombo following an injury to Navdeep Saini.
Warrier has deserved his good fortune. It is a just reward for his exceptional skills as a swing bowler capable of long spells and his perseverance.
Those skills were on full display in Kerala’s Ranji Trophy match against Jharkhand at Perinthalmanna in late 2012. After his sensational spell (6/44 in the second innings) helped Kerala score an innings win with a day and a half to spare, the visiting team’s coach Tarak Sinha had told this correspondent how impressed he was with the 21-year-old’s performance, which he called one of the best he had seen in domestic cricket for years.
Sinha, who has coached 12 international cricketers including Manoj Prabhakar and Rishabh Pant, had said: “India needs some young pace bowlers and I feel Sandeep could be one.”
Finally, he has become one, albeit not when quite young.