Kuldeep Sen - From a small village in Madhya Pradesh to IPL stardom with Rajasthan Royals

New Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Sayan GhoshUpdated: Jun 01, 2022, 03:07 PM IST


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Kuldeep Sen went on to play seven matches for Rajasthan Royals this year and ended up taking eight wickets in total including a four-wicket haul against Royal Challengers Bangalore.

The recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 featured quite a number of young talents who impressed experts and fans alike with their performances. From the express pace of Umran Malik to the batting of Tilak Varma, the tournament saw domestic talents proving their mettle on the grand stage. However, when former England captain Michael Vaughan was asked to choose the ‘young player of the season’ according to him, he had a surprising pick – Kuldeep Sen of Rajasthan Royals. The 25-year-old fast bowler featured for a handful of matches for his franchise, but his pace and precision were enough to make him a topic of discussion in the cricketing community.

It has been quite a journey for the boy from Rewa in Madhya Pradesh. Coming from a poor family with his father owning a small barber shop, Kuldeep never had much support when it comes to playing cricket. The low income and four other siblings meant that there was no money for Kuldeep to buy a proper cricket kit and that is where he was helped by his childhood coach Aril Anthony.

Anthony was convinced by the pace displayed by a young Kuldeep and after hearing his financial situation, he waived off his training fees and took care of her diet and even got him a proper kit.

“When he first came to us, he had a good height, and he was able to bowl fast. It is difficult to understand someone’s strength at the age of around 12-13 years and as a result, we asked him to concentrate more on his bowling”, the former Madhya Pradesh U-19 fast bowler told WION.

While the pace was always there, Kuldeep’s game was not without his flaws. He ended up chucking the ball while looking to exert himself and it was ultimately rectified by a smart plan from Anthony.

“He was fond of bowling bouncers, but he ended up chucking sometimes. I did not allow him to go to any trials because of that reason and we kept working on his action till it got better,” he said.

With a better action and solid local pedigree, Kuldeep made his Ranji Trophy debut for Madhya Pradesh in 2018. It was a great season for him as he ended up taking 25 wickets in 8 matches and since then, he has featured quite regularly on the domestic circuit. However, IPL was still a distant dream and that was finally achieved in 2022 as RR picked him up for the base price of Rs 2 million.

The debut was everything that the young fast bowler could have hoped for and more. He started proceedings with a 146.3 kmph screamer to Lucknow opener Quinton de Kock and with 15 runs to defend in the final over, he was entrusted with the duty to clinch the game for his side. He kept his calm and against a seasoned veteran like Marcus Stoinis, he was able to guide his team to victory.

The 25-year-old went on to play six more matches for Rajasthan Royals this year and ended up taking eight wickets in total including a four-wicket haul against Royal Challengers Bangalore. However, according to Anthony, it was the association with legendary cricketers like Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga that is the biggest takeaway for Kuldeep from this IPL season.

“I am constantly in touch with him and we discuss his game. But I did not speak to him during the pre-season at all. He is surrounded by legends and he needs to learn from them right now.”

With the IPL gone, a long road lies ahead for Kuldeep Sen. The domestic season will once again be a great proving ground for the youngster and for a fast bowler whose Instagram handle is ‘150kuldeep’, the goal seems quite well thought out – both in the short as well as the long term.