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After Sai Sudarshan’s smashing India debut, a look at his cricketing journey

First Published: 18th December, 2023 8:59 IST

Showing no nerves fronting up to the South African quicks in his debut ODI, young Sai smashed an unbeaten 55 off 43 balls with nine fours

Rising Indian batter Sai Sudharsan capped off a memorable 2023 by not only making his international debut for the ‘Men in Blue’ but also smashing a brilliant, match-winning half-century in tough overseas conditions during the first ODI against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday.
Sudharsan looked at ease while facing the Proteas bowling line-up, which, while missing some big names such as Kagiso Rabada, Lungi Ngidi and Marco Jansen, had enough steam to rattle the visitors on a helpful surface.

However, showing no nerves fronting up to the South African quicks in his debut ODI, young Sai smashed an unbeaten 55 off 43 balls with nine fours.
The southpaw scored his runs at an impressive strike rate of over 127.
While many cricket fans are aware of this 22-year-old’s journey to international cricket, including his breakthrough 96-run knock in the Indian Premier League final this year for the Gujarat Titans against the Chennai Super Kings, a lot of hard work and donning of cricketing jerseys went into the eventual fulfilment of his India dream.
Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL)
Sudharsan earned fame with his performances in this state franchise-based T20 league. Sudharsan’s name started coming up with the 2021 edition of the tournament, in which he scored 358 runs in eight matches at an average of 71.60, with five fifties and a strike rate of over 143. He finished as the second-best run-getter playing for Lyca Kovai Kings.
Over the next two seasons, he went on to score 336 runs in 10 matches at an average of 48.00, with four fifties in 2022 and 371 runs in six matches at an average of 74.20 and a strike rate of over 172, with four fifties in the 2023 season. He finished as the fourth-highest run-getter in 2022 and second-highest run-maker in the 2023 season.
Indian Premier League (IPL)

Success in the TNPL caught the attention of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises and it wasn’t long before he landed a contract worth Rs 20 lakh with Gujarat Titans. The doors to the biggest T20 league in the world had been opened for the southpaw. In his first IPL season, he scored 145 runs in five games at an average of 36.25 and a strike rate of over 127, with one half-century.
The young batter gave better returns to his franchise in the 2023 season, playing the perfect anchor to batters around him. He scored 362 runs in eight matches at an average of 51.71, with a strike rate of over 141. He scored three half-centuries, including an explosive 96 off 47 balls (eight fours and six sixes) against Chennai Super Kings in the final. However, as it turned out, the inning went in vain.
Domestic cricket for Tamil Nadu, South Zone
In his debut first-class season for TN in the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy, he scored an impressive 572 runs in seven matches at an average of 47.66, with two centuries and a fifty in 12 innings. His best score was 179.
Call up to India ‘A’
In July this year, Sudarsan received his maiden call-up for India ‘A’ for the Asian Cricket Council (ACC) Emerging Teams Asia Cup. In the tournament, he smashed a century against Pakistan and ended as the fourth-highest run-getter with 220 runs at an average of 73.33, with a century and fifty. His best score was 104*.
County stint with Surrey
Sudharsan got his first taste of testing English conditions with a county stint with Surrey, featuring in three County Championship matches. In three innings, he scored 116 runs, including knocks of 73 and 40 against Hampshire in a low-scoring game. He walked away with some good scores, a Division One Championship title with Surrey and most importantly, some game time in English conditions.
Sai has been prolific in first-class cricket, scoring 843 runs in 12 matches at an average of 42.15, with two tons and three fifties in 20 innings.

In List-A cricket, Sai has 1,354 runs in 26 matches at an average of 63.04, with six centuries and five fifties. His best List-A score is 154.
In T20Is, he aggregated 976 runs at an average of 37.53 and a strike rate of over 125, scoring six fifties. His best score in the shortest format is 96. (ANI)

Also Read: National Sports Awards 2023: From Shami to ‘Sat-Chi’, a look at star-studded nominees list

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