For someone who has never played a T20 match, a return of 25 runs with the bat and an economy of 5.75 with the ball on his Indian T20 League debut was enough to portray what a young Hrithik Shokeen has to offer.
In an effort that came in a rather losing cause, Shokeen made headlines on the eve of Team Mumbai’s three-wicket loss to Team Chennai on April 21 for all the right reasons.
The 21-year-old, who was denied the wicket of Robin Uthappa, was bought by Mumbai at his base price of INR 20 lakh during the mega auction and wasn’t the first choice spinner for the team.
But Hrithik Shokeen’s debut came sooner than anticipated.
“Sometimes you have to look at the opposition as well, they have 3-4 left-handers in the middle and that’s why we wanted an off-spinner,” Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma explained Shokeen’s selection.
Who is Hrithik Shokeen?
Hrithik Shokeen is a 21-year-old off-spinner who had a resume of just eight List A matches when he made his debut for Mumbai in the Indian T20 League. Prior to that, Shokeen had never played a T20 match in his career.
His only exposure in any kind of official cricket matches came in the Asia Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup 2019/20. Playing for India Emerging Team in a 14-team tournament, he ended the competition with just two wickets in four matches as India bowed out following a three-run defeat to Pakistan Emerging Team in the semi-final.
Before that, the youngster had finished Bangladesh’s U-23 tour of India in 2019 as the joint-highest wicket-taker. Shokeen, who played all four matches, picked six wickets at an average of 21.
Also played Test for India U-19
Before Shokeen could make his List A debut for India, the young bowler played two youth Tests for the India U-19 team against South Africa U-19. In a two-match Test series, the 21-year-old ended up as the highest wicket-taker with 10 scalps.
After the success in Test matches, India U-19 also played a quadrangular U-19 series, but Shokeen failed to get a place in the team.
Indian T20 League debut
Team Mumbai fell to the bowling brilliance of Chennai bowler Mukesh Choudhary to such an extent that they lost three wickets within as many overs.
For Shokeen, he walked out when his team was reeling at 4/47 with all the big hitters, including Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav returning to the pavilion.
In an innings that included three fours, the 21-year-old scored 25 important runs in as many balls to help his side post 155/7 after 20 overs.
Chennai were always tipped to overpower Mumbai’s bowling attack, but Shokeen refused to back out. The youngster came close to claiming Robin Uthappa’s wicket in his debut over, but replays showed the ball had scuffed the surface before ending up in his hands.
It was nevertheless an impressive display and given how he bowled against the defending champions, it won’t come as any surprise if he continues to get a place in Mumbai’s starting XI for the remaining matches.
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Featured photo: Twitter / Hrithik Shokeen