IPL: Nitish Reddy, the boy next door who shines for Sunrisers Hyderabad

The 20-year-old, who equalled a batting feat on Thursday, deserves grooming as a seaming allrounder

Nitish Kumar Reddy in action during an IPL match (photo: BCCI)
Nitish Kumar Reddy in action during an IPL match (photo: BCCI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

What is common between David Warner, Manish Pandey, Heinrich Klaasen and Nitish Kumar Reddy – a 20-year-old rookie for Sunrisers Hyderabad? Believe it or not, all four now hold the record of hitting the highest number of sixes in an IPL innings (eight) by a Sunrisers Hyderabad batter.

It was on Thursday night, 2 May, that Nitish, the batting allrounder born in the coastal city of Visakhapatnam, joined the elite group with an unbeaten 76 in 42 balls coming in at No.4 – an innings studded with three fours and eight sixes as he treated veteran spinners Ravi Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal with disdain to finish with a strike rate of 180.95. And it was not quite a flash in the pan as in seven matches (five innings) so far, Nitish has managed to corner attention in a batting line-up which had been running the opposition onto the ground with 219 runs at an average of 54.75.

While the impact player for two seasons has curbed the opportunities for the sixth bowling option, Nitish has chipped in with three wickets so far with his seamers – certainly serving a notice to the selectors to fast-track him into the India A fold. There is a genuine clamour for pace bowling allrounders in the country and it’s time to harness the likes of Nitish, who had been a part of Under-19 India B before.

The IPL has, over the years, become far removed from its initial ideals of grooming promising talents from the hinterland of respective franchises. The talent scouts have done a phenomenal job by unearthing a Jasprit Bumrah from Ahmedabad or a Yashavi Jaiswal from Mumbai, but it’s difficult to recall enough players getting a break from the city or state the franchise is headquartered – with a few exceptions like Punjab Kings or Lucknow Super Kings in recent times.

This is where Nitish, who made his first-class debut against Vidarbha in Indore in 2021, stands as an exception. The journey may have just begun as in 22 List A matches for Andhra so far, he has scored 403 matches in 15 innings with four fifties and 14 wickets with a best haul of three for 23 – not quite setting the stage on fire but the attitude that he had shown against top-notch international bowlers is worth taking a relook at him.

The explosive innings on Thursday night, meanwhile, has got the TV pundits gushing. Here’s what Mohammed Kaif had to say about Nitish taking on Chahal: ‘’Reaching there by using the shoulders and then smacking it straight for a six is no easy task. Inka naam sunenge aap, bhavishya mai bahut sunenge (You will hear his name, you will hear it a lot in future).’’

Irfan Pathan, the former India all-rounder, echoed similar sentiments: ‘’Indian selectors will keep an eye on him completely…He could be used in India A matches. He doesn’t care what your reputation is.’’ The reference was certainly about the way the boy with the shy smile treated bowlers like Trent Boult, Sandeep Sharma, Avesh Khan and the two decorated spinners.

The fact that Sunrisers are looking for a resurgent side and very much in the race for a dash in the last four means Nitish will be noticed even more if he can keep up the good work!

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