West Zone 129 for 7 (Shaw 65, Kaverappa 4-44, Vyshak 2-29) trail South Zone 213 (Vihari 63, Mulani 3-29, Gaja 2-27) by 84 runs
Kaverappa only began bowling with the cricket ball seriously when he was 18, when he moved to Bengaluru from Coorg, the hockey heartland, to attend his pre-university college. And being away from home meant that he felt the need to keep himself engaged to prevent being homesick. He chose to spend time on the cricket field, a decision he certainly isn’t regretting now.
Then, in an engaging passage where he bowled unchanged – except, of course, a couple of breaks came his way in the form of rain intervals – he transformed his figures to 12-3-22-4. More than the dismissals themselves, the manner in which he got them further reinforced how far he’s come along since starting out wanting to make a name in athletics, hockey, and even netball, where he represented Karnataka at the nationals.
Two overs later, after testing Sarfaraz Khan – on cue – with three short deliveries, Kaverappa had Sarfaraz glued to the crease and managed to dart a full-ish delivery back in to hit him on the knee roll. Kaverappa knew he’d had his man even before the umpire raised the finger. Sarfaraz reviewed in vain, and West Zone, who were in cruise control at 97 for 1 in reply to South’s 213, suddenly found themselves wobbling at 116 for 5.
It helped Kaverappa that there was excellent control from the other end in the form of Vyshak, his Karnataka state mate. Vyshak went around the stumps and peppered Cheteshwar Pujara with short balls while Kaverappa went on a full-blown attack in a terrific exhibition of late reverse swing, bringing the ball back in. This would eventually account for Pujara’s wicket late in the day as he flicked a delivery on middle and leg to the short-square-leg position.
Kaverappa would soon lead his team off the park, having delivered a telling spell that gave South Zone complete control of proceedings, with West tottering on 129 for 7, still trailing by 84 runs. That this comes hot on the heels of a five-for in the semi-final against North Zone makes the feat more impressive.
Sure, the conditions were in favour of the bowlers, but the batters still needed to be forced into making mistakes, which Kaverappa did superbly. Irfan Pathan, who worked with the Under-19 players at the NCA, is “excited” at the prospect of watching Kaverappa develop further. Those watching from the stands, Shreyas Iyer among them, were certainly engrossed in watching a bowler wheel away with intensity.
Kaverappa may go on to bowl better spells, but many years later, it’s entirely possible there may be a soft corner for the one he just delivered in the 2023-24 Duleep final.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo