Experienced cricket fans often remember the one-off Delhi Test in 1996 for Nayan Mongia’s sublime inning of 152 and for Azharuddin taking that one handed blinder in the slips but it was David Johnson playing his first Test who had produced the edge.
Johnson broke into the Indian team because of an injury to Jawagal Srinath. He kept on getting in the squad though but couldn’t get to play for India until that moment.
He could bowl faster and more faster and when he nicked Michael Slater to second slips where the Azhar took the catch as if he was plucking a mango from a nearby tree, he was over the moon. He went on to trouble Ponting like Ishant Sharma did in 2008 but couldn’t get his wicket.
He had an uncanny resemblance with Shoaib Akhtar who, obviously started his career a year later and achieved a legendary stature. Despite all the promise, he had only this wicket to show and thus he lost his place. Meanwhile, a 5 wkh against SA in a tour game helped him regain his place on the SA tour.
The injury which gave him the exposure now came back to haunt him as he hurt his left shoulder during Durban Test which ruled him out of the series. Since this moment, he never got picked for the national side despite having few good domestic seasons for Karnataka. The bowler who could have lot more wickets finished his career with only 4 Test wickets.
The tall and strapping fast bowler from Rajasthan made an unwanted record on his international debut when he conceded 179 runs without getting any wicket which is the highest number of runs for any bowler to give away without taking a wicket on debut.
Pankaj Singh, who made his first class debut in 2003 burst onto the scene in 2006 because of his consistent performance for Rajasthan as he took them to the Ranji Trophy final that year.
A year later, his impressive outcome earned him the call up for the India’s famous tour of Australia in 2007-08 but he couldn’t break into playing 11. The 1.98m tall fast bowler had pace and could extract bounce because of his height but success at international level wasn’t perhaps destined for him.
The first real opportunity for Pankaj to make his name came in 2014 when India toured England but his disastrous performance at debut was followed by a not so impressive performance in his second Test where he could only manage to dismiss Joe Root and Jos Buttler in the entire test. He got dropped and with the fast bowling resources India started having after that period diminished any sort of hope of comeback he had. He is currently playing domestic cricket for Puducherry.
Debashish Mohanty, the Odisha born cricketer was popular for his fluid action more than anything else. His action was imitated by cricket enthusiasts much like how the actions of Dale Steyn or Brett Lee or Zaheer Khan got imprinted in people’s brain few years later. Many might not know but ICC designed the 1999 WC logo taking inspiration from his action only but it wasn’t the only quality he possessed.
Back in 1997 when he got selected for Indian team, he impressed people with the movement he could generate both ways. He had a great start to his ODI career with him being the second highest wicket taker for India in the 1999 world cup, only behind Venkatesh Prasad.
However, his form started dipping since then and with the rise of Ajit Agarkar, he soon got discarded. Debashish took 57 wickets from the 45 ODIs he played but he couldn’t get any success in Test cricket with just 4 wickets in 2 Tests.
Although he did play a huge amount of domestic cricket and once took all 10 wickets in an inning against South Zone while playing for East Zone. Interestingly, it was the same match which MS Dhoni was shown to have missed in his biopic due to missing his flight !
Tinu Yohanan is the first player from Kerala who went on to represent India and so, he does enjoy quite a bit of stature back at home despite not being able to make it big at the international stage. He made his debut for India in the home series against England way back in 2001 and dismissed English opener on the 4th ball of his very first over which added him to the unique list of bowlers to get wicket in their very first over of career.
However, due to the slump in form, he couldn’t sustain the same impact and deal with the expectations as his Test and ODI careers both were cut short to only 3 games apiece. In IPL 2009, he represented Royal Challengers Bangalore as well. Tinu is still seen as an inspiration in Kerala as he showed the way to everyone that making into the national team isn’t just about playing for big state centers.