Kuldeep Sen: The 25-year-old RR pacer who stopped a rampaging Marcus Stoinis

Kuldeep Sen maintained his calm and bowled as many as 3 dot balls at Marcus Stoinis in the final over to finish off the contest for Rajasthan Royals.

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Kuldeep Sen: The 25-year-old RR pacer who stopped a rampaging Marcus Stoinis (Courtesy by BCCI)
Kuldeep Sen: The 25-year-old RR pacer who stopped a rampaging Marcus Stoinis (Courtesy by BCCI)

Sanju Samson must have had his heart in his mouth when Marcus Stoinis was looking in red-hot form during Rajasthan Royals’ (RR) match on Sunday against the Lucknow Super Giants. To make things worse, Avesh Khan had opened his account with a massive six off Yuzvendra Chahal. Mind you, Chahal is the current Purple Cap holder in the 2022 Indian Premier League (IPL).

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Prasidh Krishna conceding 19 runs in the penultimate over of LSG’s run-chase added to Samson’s headaches. Having already exhausted the quota of four of five specialist bowlers, the Royals’ skipper was left with only one option- 25-year-old fast bowler Kuldeep Sen. Earlier, the pacer castled an in-form Deepak Hooda, but bowling the last over posed him a different challenge altogether.

Kuldeep Sen delivers under pressure

Making his IPL debut, he was up against one of the cleanest hitters of the cricket ball, Stoinis. His heart would have been pounding while marking his run-up, although Khan was on strike in the first ball. Sen bowled a full toss and Khan managed to get Stoinis on strike. Keeping in mind the form Stoinis looked in, he was expected to guide the Super Giants home with relative ease.

But Kuldeep had other ideas. To start with, the pacer dished out a wide yorker and Stoinis drilled one straight to the cover fielder. Thereafter, the batter tried to scoop one over fine leg only to get smashed on the pads. The target was still within LSG’s radar, especially after Rahul Tewatia’s twin sixes off Odean Smith the other night.

With 14 runs needed off three balls, Kuldeep bowled one outside the off-stump and Stoinis had an almighty heave at it. It was dot! Stoinis, who batted at a strike rate of 223.53, played three dot balls on the trot! Debutant Kuldeep Sen had managed to get a monkey off his back. Most importantly, Samson must have heaved a sigh of relief.

Although the speedster conceded 10 off the last two balls, he had done enough for RR to secure their third win out of four games in the ongoing season. The Royals also dethroned the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), led by Shreyas Iyer, from the top of the points table.

Samson backs Kuldeep to don India colours

Samson, in the meantime, was impressed with Kuldeep to the extent that he backed the seamer to represent Team India sooner than later. The RR captain said that his team picked him up after he did well in the 2021-22 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

“(Kuldeep) Depends upon how he bowled his first three overs. I thought he had done really well and had the confidence to bowl those wide yorkers. Whatever I saw in Syed Mushtaq Ali, after that Royals picked him up. He is a special talent, can be for India soon,” Samson said in the post-match presentation ceremony.

Sen had a reasonable campaign in the domestic competition while playing for Madhya Pradesh. He picked up four wickets from five games at a decent economy rate of 7.75. Prior to his IPL debut, Sen had taken part in 18 T20 matches and picked up 12 wickets at an economy rate of above eight.

The Rewa-born fast bowler also has 48 wickets to his name, combining first-class and List A cricket after making his debut in 2018. All in all, Samson’s decision to replace Navdeep Saini with Kuldeep Sen at the Wankhede Stadium didn’t backfire by any stretch of the imagination.