New Delhi: The latest cricketing sensation Hemang Badani seems to have cemented his place in the One-day side with his excellent batting and fielding displays in the just concluded series against Zimbabwe. The 24-year-old enhanced his credentials when he signed off with an enterprising 77 off 99 balls in the fifth and last One-dayer in Rajkot on December 14. This knock, besides his other attributes, also showcased the left-hander's class and temperament. The Tamil Nadu player's swashbuckling batting and electric fielding in domestic cricket - especially in the last season - forced the selectors to pick him for the One-day team. And he has not disappointed the selectors or his fans. Badani has the distinct advantage of being a natural left-hander. He unflinchingly takes on speedsters, uses his feet against spinners and remains calm in tense situations - hallmarks of a mature batsman. He also rotates the strike regularly in Limited Overs cricket - a necessity in this version - and selflessly lets the other batsman do the scoring if he is in better touch. Born on November 14, 1976, in Chennai, Badani's initiation into cricket was an accident. He used to accompany his father, Kamal, a local club-level cricketer, to matches in which he was to play. One day in 1985, the club fell short of one player and Badani (he always used to don whites to the ground) was asked to fill the void. As it turned out, Badani, batting at number 11, saved the match. Buoyed by this display, his father began encouraging him to play the game. Initially Badani was a left-arm pace bowler. He switched to spin when his school coach prevailed upon him to do so for some reason. However, Badani did not really enjoy the change and, instead, took to batting in all earnestness. Badani started with the 'C' Division in the local league, a good learning platform for youngsters in Chennai. Having made rapid progress through the ranks (he helped Tamil Nadu win the under-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy in 1991-92), Badani was picked in the India under-19 team to play against the South African colts in 1996 and he justified his selection with scores of 85 not out, 87, 59, 59, 57 and 39. The left-hander, in fact, topped the batting averages on both sides. On the basis of this performance, he was drafted into the Tamil Nadu Ranji squad the next year.
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