Over the last 24 hours, Parvinder Awana has become a vocal promoter of Himachal tourism. Dal Lake, Dhauladhar mountain range, McLeodganj — he reels off suggestions to a clutch of friends and relatives from his Harolla village near Noida, who have descended on Dharamsala to celebrate his instant stardom and match-winning performances. Except, IPL’s new star is struggling to assemble so many tickets for his personal cheering contingent, and hence cajoling his guests to accept other exciting outings for a Saturday evening.
When he visited McLeodganj on Thursday after the game, Awana was mobbed by fans with requests for autographs, much to the envy of his team mates. “I stepped out of the car and was immediately surrounded by people. They told me I was bowling great and they loved watching me in action. I’ve never been mobbed before. I promised to keep bowling quick,” he says.
For four years, Awana attended training and pre-season IPL camps for various franchises without making the cut. The 25-year-old wasn’t too perturbed about missing out because he was more focused on first-class cricket, but gradually found it difficult to answer his neighbours and other villagers. “They kept asking me why I was never seen in the IPL. They couldn’t understand that first-class cricket is equally big. But they had a point. What you see is what you believe. IPL is such a big platform, and I wanted to prove myself,” he says.
Awana had almost lost out this season and mentally prepared for another round of taunts, when he got the call from Kings XI. “I had just 48 hours to go for signing up. Every year, teams would call me for nets without taking me, but this year even that didn’t look like happening.” But life changed swiftly.
Getting spotted, slotted
Vikram Rathore, Punjab Ranji coach and KXIP assistant coach, had watched Awana generate great pace during a domestic game and recommended his name to the franchise for the last available slot. “Initially I thought it was joke but the contract letter was in my email. I decided quickly, for I wanted to prove myself. And now, I want the purple cap,” he says.
With 17 wickets, Awana is enjoying his stint. “I went for some runs in the last overs but that was because I was trying to look for pre-determined yorkers, slower ones. I have to hit the deck hard to generate pace and bounce, and do it 24 times in a day. At Kotla, mera tappa set tha, I knew which areas to hit there. Here in Dharamsala, there was grass and I got good seam movement,” he says adding that Team India and KXIP bowling coach Joe Dawes has been helpful.
“Joe is superb. He keeps motivating me by telling me I’m a quick bowler — a 140+ bowler, and that I can bowl 150 now. He doesn’t insist on me bowling in the nets saying ‘I know you will give your best in the game.’ He tells me if I have bowled what I wanted to bowl, then it’s a good ball. It’s only the plan that needs to be altered and that’s my job. These are little things but they help,” he says.
Post a few team engagements and a session with physiotherapist on Friday, Awana set out to sight-see with 10-15 friends, including elder brother Ratinder, his village team captain Sandeep Sharma and Dinesh, his fast bowling partner in tennis ball games.
Awana is still struggling for tickets, but he has planned a surprise if they agree to watch the game on tv: skipper Adam Gilchrist’s autograph, and possibly a dinner with team mates.The Indian Express