India Tour of Sri Lanka – Irfan Sait Magical Coach: Veteran cricket coach from Karnataka, Irfan Sait will be a proud man seeing four of his students in the current India team. If Mayank Agarwal is with Virat Kohli for India Tour of England, three others — Manish Pandey, Devdutt Padikkal and Krishnappa Gowtham — will be trying to cement their places in India Tour of Sri Lanka.
The coach with a magical touch has nurtured many Karnataka cricketers including Robin Uthappa, Vinay Kumar amongst others through his academy Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC). While Pandey has already made his India debut, Devdutt Padikkal and Krishnappa Gowtham have earned maiden call-ups for the Sri Lanka Tour.
In an exclusive chat with InsideSport, the veteran coach said he is “over the moon” seeing his students getting India call-ups on India’s Tour of Sri Lanka.
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India Tour of Sri Lanka – Irfan Sait Magical Coach: His young student Devdutt Padikkal has had a record-breaking Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021 where he scored 737 runs from seven matches that include four centuries and three half-centuries. In the IPL 2021, he carried on his form, smashing a hundred for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He was expected to earn a call-up for the limited-overs series against England, but he had to wait for his chance.
“If someone deserves a chance amongst the youngsters, it is Devdutt Padikkal. The boy has done extremely well and more importantly, he has played extremely consistently. With two left-handers opening, it will not be easy for Sri Lankan bowlers to bowl against them. It could be extremely good. It has not been tried earlier.” Irfan Sait told InsideSport.
India Tour of Sri Lanka: The other student who has finally received a call-up is Krishnappa Gowtham. The Karnataka off-spinner is an established name in the domestic circuit not just with the ball but with the bat as well. He has steered Karnataka multiple times with match-winning performances.
“Gowtham has impressed everybody as a net bowler during the England series. He has been extremely effective and has impressed Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri. They must have put in a good word for him. Yes, he had to wait for a long time. But if there is one single game-changer, there is no one better than Krishnappa Gowtham,” Irfan Sait said.
India Tour of Sri Lanka – Irfan Sait: While Krishnappa Gowtham has impressive numbers in red-ball cricket, he has shined in the one-dayers as well. In first-class cricket, Gowtham has bagged 166 wickets from just 42 matches including a career-best of 8/60 while he has 70 scalps from 47 List A matches. But it’s not just with the ball, he has been impressive with the bat too. In a Karnataka Premier League match in 2019, Gowtham produced a performance of a lifetime, scoring a 39-ball 137 while scalping 8/15 in his four overs — world-record in T20 cricket.
“He has shown remarkable progress year on year. In the last 4-5 years, he has been extremely hardworking and dedicated. To be honest, there are so many good bowlers like Ashwin and others so he was being overlooked. But now the team management and selectors have realized that he is a different kind of a bowler. He is equally effective with the white ball. He will be of immense value in Sri Lankan as they have many left-handers,” Irfan Sait told InsideSport.
India Tour of Sri Lanka: However, other than the two debutants, the one entire country will be looking at is Manish Pandey, who has been in and out of the India team in recent times. The stylish middle-order batsman is known for his versatile batting. His coach said that he will be a star if he is given a longer run and fair opportunities. The other student who is currently in the UK for India’s Tour of England is Mayank Agarwal who was also nurtured by Irfan Sait.
“Manish Pandey is a fierce competitor. He loves the challenges. The more the challenges, the better he will apply himself and work harder. I think if Manish is given a fair chance, Indian selectors will be hard-pressed for his choice. If he gets a fair opportunity, he can display his talent and I am very, very optimistic that he will do extremely well,” he said.