Ducks to water — Krunal, Prasidh show they belong

Tuesday’s debutants join a long list of newcomers to the Indian team who have made a mark on the big stage this season

One had an emotional outburst. The other chose to display controlled aggression. Despite contrasting reactions to their success, both of Tuesday’s debutants not only rose to the occasion but also reaffirmed that they belonged to the fearless generation of new-age India cricketers.

All-rounder Krunal Pandya and fast-bowler M. Prasidh Krishna joined the long list of newcomers taking to international cricket like a duck to water in a unique season for the Indian team.

Like the majority of newcomers this season, neither Krunal — who made his ODI debut on the eve of his 30th birthday — nor Prasidh, 25, are callow young men.

Both have experienced the challenges and pressures of domestic cricket, the India-A circuit and the Indian Premier League (IPL). And as veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan pointed out, performing in the IPL helps domestic cricketers not get overawed in the international arena.

“They are confident because they play so many domestic games and IPL, and they share the dressing room with big players, play against them. That builds confidence and they feel the same players play international cricket,” Dhawan said after winning his first ODI ‘Man of the Match’ award in India since November 2013.

IPL exposure helps

“Also, IPL has some top-notch coaches, so the IPL exposure helps a lot, and our domestic cricket is strong, so it is a good mix of the two that’s helping new players perform better.”

Both Krunal and Prasidh displayed their belief in themselves — in terms of skills and mental toughness. Krunal came in to bat with fewer than 10 overs remaining and his side in danger of falling considerably short of the par score. He promptly scored the fastest ODI fifty by a debutant, elevating India into the ascendancy at half-time.

It was followed by an emotional outpouring, with a teary-eyed Krunal finding solace in younger brother Hardik’s arms, as they paid tribute to their father Himanshu who passed away in January.

Early in the chase, Jonny Bairstow targeted Prasidh and used the quick’s pace — consistently clocked at more than 140 kmph. When a debutant goes for 22 runs early in the piece, seldom does he get his act together later in the match.

No doubt it helped that captain Virat Kohli immediately took him out of the attack, but when Prasidh returned to bowl, he saw the back of Jason Roy and Ben Stokes in successive overs. It got even sweeter — when he dismissed Tom Curran off what turned out to be the last ball of the match, Prasidh became the first India pacer to pick four wickets on ODI debut.

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