Kottayam: The shortlisted nominees for the Kerala’s biggest sports award, instituted by Malayala Manorama in association with Santa Monica Tours and Travels, have been announced.
The six final contenders for the Manorama Sports Star 2017 Award, picked by an expert panel are: Basil Thampi (cricket), P U Chitra (athletics), Y Mohammed Anas (athletics), H S Prannoy (badminton), K P Rahul (football), and Sanju V Samson (cricket). The winner will be determined via online/SMS voting.
Starting today, we will profile each of the nominees to help readers make their pick. Let’s begin with Basil Thampi, who had an exceptional Indian Premier League (IPL) and domestic season in 2017.
When Basil Thampi made his debut for Gujarat Lions in the last IPL, his teammate Dwayne Bravo, mighty impressed with the Kerala speedster, had made a prediction about him. “He is a hugely talented youngster. I would say he will get the opportunity to play for Team India in a year or so. I think Indian cricket is in right direction when you have someone like him,” was what the dashing West Indian all-rounder said after seeing Basil bowl.
His words proved prophetic. Basil, who won the 'Emerging Player of the Season' award at the 10th edition of the glamorous league, soon made it to the India 'A' squad before receiving a call-up to the Indian Twenty20 team. He was also part of the India Red squad which won the Duleep Trophy.
The rise of Basil, who hails from Perumbavoor, to national reckoning has been meteoric, as until March, 2017, he was just another player whose exploits were confined to the domestic level. In fact, the year 2017 marked the start of a career-defining run for the lanky paceman.
IPL brings fame
Basil, who had a base price of Rs 10 lakh in the IPL auction 2017, was picked up by Gujarat Lions for Rs 85 lakh. The faith reposed by the management was justified when he trapped the in-form Chris Gayle plumb in front with a quick yorker to claim his maiden IPL wicket.
He went on to pick the big wickets of Virat Kohli, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Hashim Amla, and Kieron Pollard in matches that followed. He finished the tournament as the Lions’ main bowler, with 11 wickets from as many as 12 matches. The most devastating weapon in Basil’s armory is the toe-crushing yorker.
When he received the emerging player award during the IPL 2017 concluding ceremony in Hyderabad, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar came over and congratulated him. “I have seen you play. Stick to whatever your strength is. You will be able to break into the national squad,” these words from the legend was the highest award for his, Basil later said.
The twenty-four-year-old will be playing for Rajasthan Royals in the 2018 IPL after being snapped up by them for Rs 95 lakh in the recently held auction.
Maiden India call-up
It was his impressive performance in the IPL which catapulted Basil to prominence and earned him a call-up to the India ‘A’ squad for the tour of South Africa. He had a decent outing in the three ODIs he featured, picking up five wickets. Basil was then retained in the ‘A’ side against visiting New Zealand, and in the two unofficial 50-over matches, he claimed four wickets.
Due to India ‘A’ commitments, Basil could play only four matches for Kerala in 2017-18 Ranji Trophy. However, he managed to take four wickets and displayed his batting skills with a quick-fire 60 against Haryana after being sent in as a night-watchman.
Soon, he was rewarded for his consistent performances for India ‘A’ and in the domestic circuit with a place in the Indian team for the three T20 internationals against touring Sri Lanka team. Though he did get a chance to play, Basil cherished every moment spent with his idols including Dhoni in the dressing room and realized his dream of lining up with the rest of the team for the national anthem clad in Indian colors.
Recently, he got an opportunity to travel with Team India to work as net bowlers to help Indian batsmen prepare for the Test series. “I believe all these chances came my way because I’m very much in the scheme of things of the selection panel. So, I’m confident that I will be playing for India one day,” Basil says.
Format to vote for Basil: BST<space>Basil. The SMS should be sent to 56767123 (SMS rates apply) in the prescribed format.
For online voting, log on to www.manoramaonline.com/sportsstar