New Delhi, Apr 28: Indian Premier League (IPL) is a platform not only for the established players to excel, but a stage where unknown cricketers make headlines. One such name this season is Parvinder Awana, the Kings XI Punjab fast bowler.
Awana has taken nine wickets in four games (before the start of the match against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, April 28). He is joint highest wicket-taker for the team with Piyush Chawla. But Chawla has played four matches more than Awana (before Saturday's match). Awana has impressed with good pace over 140kmph.
It is interesting to know that the right-arm paceman from Delhi took to cricket only after he had crossed 18 years. Now at 25, he is reaping the rewards for his choice, rather his uncle's.
Awana was all set to join police force but it was his uncle who insisted that he pursue cricket.
“It was my uncle who insisted that I joined the cricket academy at the National Stadium. I never dreamt that I would make it this far,” Awana was quoted as saying by “Hindustan Times” newspaper.
“I cleared the physical test required to join the police force and was all set to join when I opted for cricket as a career,” he added.
At 13, Awana lost his father. “My father passed away (in 1999) when I was 13. Though my mother got a job, we had a tough time. Cricket was only a pastime then,” he said.
Awana hails from Araula village, on the outskirts of Noida. He said farming was also an option for him, as done by his forefathers.
The fast bowler's cricket journey took a turn when he was selected as India's fastest bowler in Scorpio Speedster contest. This programme was a hunt to find the fastest bowler in the country and Awana won it in 2004. As a result of that, he was sent to Australia where he honed his skills under former Australia speedster Damien Fleming.
“I was chosen the fastest bowler in the Scorpio Speedster contest and sent to Australia. There, I spent valuable days with former Aussie pacer Damien Fleming, which helped me make rapid strides,” he recalled.
Awana felt if village boys like him are giving proper coaching, the country's fast bowling group can grow further.
“Players like Umesh (Yadav) and I hail from villages and that reflects in our build,” said Awana.
Playing for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy, Awana was the joint sixth highest wicket-taker in the recently concluded 2011-12 season. He took 28 wickets in six games. Overall he is second highest wicket-taker in domestic season of 2011-12 with 57 wickets. He has so far played 32 first class games and has 110 wickets. He made his debut in 2007.
The impressive record in domestic circuit caught Punjab team management's attention and he was signed up for IPL this season. Last season, he took part in the trials for Kolkata Knight Riders and was part of the development squad of KKR that toured Sri Lanka. He, however, failed to make it to the KKR IPL squad for the last season.
Also this season, he emerged as the leading wicket-taker in Vijay Hazare Trophy One Day Tournament. He had 16 wickets in seven matches at an impressive average of 13.12 and an economy rate of 3.62. His team Delhi, however, lost to Mumbai in the semi-final.
Awana will be hoping that his impressive run continues in IPL and that further brings him into spotlight for India selection.