Varun Shetty in Kolkata (May 23, 2018)

Prasidh Krishna was 19-years-old when he got a taste of top-level cricket for the first time. He opened the bowling for Karnataka against Bangladesh A in 2015 and took a five-for, including the wickets of batsmen who had already played Test matches. It was also the last time Prasidh bowled with the red ball for his state at the senior level. But he’s a more grateful man these days than the 15-year-old who was shocked that he hadn’t been picked for the Under-16.

“Yeah U-16 I expected myself to be a part of the squad but then when I wasn’t picked, I felt bad because at that age I didn’t know much about failure,” Prasidh said to ESPNcricinfo. “[I’d] played two years in the U-14s so I thought I’d be a compulsory pick. But it didn’t happen. That’s when I realised I had to work a little hard, take things very seriously. My friends and parents helped me with that.

“In an U-19s tournaments, I didn’t play the first three games. Then I played the semi-final, and got four wickets in the first innings and second innings. That’s when I think people saw me as Prasidh Krishna. That was my first breakthrough and then Karnataka Premier League (KPL) happened. After KPL, the first-class game against Bangladesh happened. Vinay [Kumar] was ill, [Abhimanyu] Mithun was busy, so that’s when I got an opportunity there. That five-wicket haul was the big thing.”

Since then, Prasidh has played in two Vijay Hazare Trophies, including the one earlier this year when was joint second-highest wicket-taker. The performance not only helped Karnataka win the title but also earned him a spot in the India A team.

By the time Sunday comes along, Prasidh might have his hands on another cup. On the evidence of Kolkata Knight Riders’ last game, when the 22-year old picked up 4 for 30, it seems like he is now their first-choice frontline fast bowler. Not too shabby for someone who wasn’t originally picked in the auction.

Like most young Indian boys, says Prasidh, he had started playing tennis-ball cricket “near his house” before joining Bengaluru’s Basavangudi Cricket Academy and then breaking into school and state teams at the sub-junior level. Being in Karnataka’s set-up from the age of 17, Prasidh became a net bowler for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

“After Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy were done, I was back home when I got a call from Kings XI Punjab in the first week of March. They wanted to look at me so I went there and spent a few days,” Prasidh said. “Then, I had to come back to Bengaluru because we had the felicitation ceremony for winning the Vijay Hazare. On the way is when KKR called me and said they wanted me to come and bowl in the nets and in a few practice games.

“I played a couple of practice games and went back. They said in case something happens to someone, they’d think about it [bringing me into the team]. So I had done my part. I came and played the match, I did well. People looked at me. That’s what they wanted to do – watching me on TV and watching me live were different.”

India Under-19s fast bowler Kamlesh Nagarkoti, fresh from a World Cup win and with the world’s attention on his ability to hit near-150kph speeds, was the “someone” to whom “something” happened. On April 14, Nagarkoti was officially ruled out with a foot injury and Prasidh was named as his replacement.

“I was prepared. A good Vijay Hazare happened, a good Deodhar happened. I knew if something happened to someone – I wasn’t wishing for it – people might look at me. It wasn’t a surprise actually, I was ready for it mentally,” Prasidh said.

But it wasn’t an easy transition into the IPL brand of cricket. Prasidh’s first two games were against Mumbai Indians, with a debut at Wankhede stadium. He finished with figures of 4-0-39-0 and 4-0-41-1.

“Mumbai is a very difficult surface for a bowler so I was really happy because the first game I was playing was a tough one. Nothing came easy to me. I’ve been learning it the hard way all my life. So Mumbai was a tough game, I was happy about that. The team never put pressure on me. They asked me what I was going to do rather than give me instructions.”

Pressure is always around when you play in an Indian ground. Through his first over, Prasidh says he couldn’t hear himself over the noise. And despite what appeared to be a tidy start in which he hit speeds in the high-130s and went for only seven, Prasidh says his head wasn’t in it till those six balls were out of the way.

He has taken eight wickets in the three matches since playing Mumbai. And KKR trust him so much that they’re happy to keep him in and Mitchell Johnson, Tom Curran, Shivam Mavi and Vinay Kumar out. Of course, Prasidh knows KKR’s strength is their spinners and that means he will keep coming under attack.

“Because the spin department is so good, oppositions might look to take on the fast bowling department very early. You need to be ready for it, adapt for it; maybe when the spinners aren’t doing well, you have to take the responsibility.”

And it has only gotten easier with a management that backs youngsters. Especially one who is pragmatic enough not to fall into the trap of romanticising his journey from net bowler to spearhead.

“DK [Dinesh Karthik] is always coming to me, asking me what I want to do. So I tell him what I want. In case something has to be changed, we do it. My role is been simple – bowl 24 good balls. Try and pick up wickets early on. Quite a normal role as a bowler. It’s been the same for me wherever I play because as a bowler your job is simple – pick up wickets and bowl quality balls.”

Source: From net bowler to frontline quick – the Prasidh Krishna story |

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