From tennis ball cricket to the Indian team, it has been a remarkable journey for Kerala pacer Basil Thampi.
The 24-year-old has made rapid strides in the last couple of seasons and the selectors have rewarded him by including him in the Indian T20 squad for the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Pace and the ability to bowl yorkers are the biggest strengths of the youngster from Perumbavoor in Ernakulam.
Though he was always talented, it was the South Zone Inter-State T20 Championships held in Chennai early this year which proved the turning point in his career.
The fact that the matches were telecast live helped his cause enormously. Basil hit the 140 kmph mark consistently and he was picked up for Rs 85 lakh by Gujarat Lions in the IPL auction which followed.
Impressive IPL stint
He did his reputation no harm in the IPL, though Lions failed to get going. Basil held his own against the power hitters and he was able to produce yorkers under pressure. His teammate and West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo was mighty impressed with Basil and went on to say that it was only a matter of time before he played for India.
The-then India coach, Anil Kumble, too said that the Kerala pacer was in the Indian's think tank's scheme of things.
Basil made it to the Indian 'A' team for the one-day tri-series in South Africa, which also featured the 'A' sides of the hosts and Afghanistan. A creditable outing there was followed by impressive performances for India 'A' against the visiting New Zealand 'A' in one-dayers.
Basil delivered for Kerala against Haryana in their must-win Ranji Trophy tie at Lahli last week.
He picked up four wickets in addition to making a quickfire 60 after being sent in as night watchman. The win helped Kerala book a place in the quarterfinals for the first time.
And, now as Kerala gear up to take on Vidarbha in the quarterfinals at Surat, comes the big call for Basil.
Basil becomes the fourth Kerala player after medium-pacers Tinu Yohannan and S Sreesanth, and his teammate Sanju Samson to get a call-up to the Indian team.
The fact that Mohammed Siraj, another talented young pacer, has been retained in the Indian T20 squad despite getting a pasting on his debut against New Zealand last month, is an indicator that Basil will get a fair share of opportunities at the highest level.
Basil has age on his side and with the India scheduled to tour South Africa, England and Australia next year, he can dream big.