To say that Pawan Negi has undoubtedly proved to be the biggest surprise of the VIVO IPL 2016 auction, would be an understatement.Negi has yet to play for India, although he has just been named in the Indian squad for the ICC World T20. One would have been justified in expecting him to be sold for somewhat higher than his modest asking price of Rs 30 lakhs. But the final stupendous figure of Rs 8.5 crores absolutely blew all projections out of the water, becoming IPL 2016’s most expensive Indian player.
Negi is a bowling all-rounder who bowls left-arm orthodox and bats left handed. His numbers haven’t exactly popped out of the charts. So what exactly made Pawan Negi so well sought?
Here are five things you might need to know about Pawan Negi:
1 Familiar face in IPL
Pawan Negi made the headlines by becoming the most expensive player in the IPL auction in 2016. Most felt that he came out of nowhere, but Negi has prior IPL experience under his belt. Negi first broke into the IPL in 2012 when he played for the Delhi Daredevils. He played for them in 2013 as well.
Back in 2012, Delhi Daredevils team mentor TA Sekhar spoke glowingly about Negi. He said: “Negi can be an effective left-hand allrounder. He caught our eye when taking six wickets overall for Delhi in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.”
In 2014 IPL, Negi played for the Chennai Super Kings. He had a notable 5 for 22 performance against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Throughout the course of his IPL career, Negi has played 21 matches. He averages 15.2 runs from 13 innings and has claimed 13 wickets from 19 innings.He will have a chance to add to that now.
2 Experienced T20 player
Although Pawan Negi hasn’t played for India, but he has accumulated experience in the T20 format. Negi has played 56 T20 matches till date. He averaged 19.16 runs from 43 innings in that span. He has bowled 50 innings and claimed 46 wickets while allowing 26.28 runs on an average. On two occasions he has claimed more than 4 wickets in an innings.
His T20 debut was for Delhi playing against Himachal Pradesh in 2011. He made 21 runs before being run out. He also bowled 4 overs and claimed 2 wickets while allowing 23 runs in his debut match.Pawan Negi has played in more T20 matches than any other format of the sport. Over time, he has shaped himself as a T20 specialist in as far as he could from playing 50 odd matches.
3 Meteoric rise
Pawan Negi’s stock has risen faster than the long-range rocket North Korea just fired. A few months ago, Negi was just another cricketer sweating it out and trying to make a name for himself. He was delighted with his selection in the Indian team, and he was astounded with the price tag he commanded in the IPL auction.
Of the whole experience, Negi has said, “It’s surreal. It looks like I am living a dream. My life has changed in just six days. This is the result of my hard work. The heavy price tag has also brought with it the pressure of expectations. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, Negi claimed 6 wickets and scored 173 runs in 9 games. That played a role in his rapid rise.
The IPL is still some ways ahead on the horizon though. Negi will get a chance to show his mettle for team India first. He has said “I have to justify the faith shown by the franchise. However, before the IPL, my priority is to perform for my country whenever I get a chance.”
4 Indebted to MS Dhoni
Not many junior cricketers are lucky to have the tutelage of a watchful legend who nurtures and shields them. Negi benefited immensely from the time he spent with MS Dhoni when they played for CSK, and he is quite grateful to the latter as well.
Negi has said, “When you get a supportive captain who tells you not to be frightened after being hit for six, your confidence automatically increases. In the Chennai Super Kings dressing room, Dhoni bhai (brother) would tell me exactly what his plan was for a particular batsman. In his mind, he is so clear as to what he wants from his bowler.”
Negi also recounts an instance when Dhoni picked him up after a slump. He said, “Once I was batting with him and I played three dot balls. After the over he came up to me and told me to bat freely and back my attacking instincts. That gave me the confidence to add those quick runs in the slog overs.”It always helps to shape your game when there are more experienced players in the lineup who take a vested interest in your development.
5 Focused on being an all-roudner
When Negi got a call to play for team India, he elaborated on the development arc he is focused on. He acknowledged that his primary talent is bowling and he is recognized for that. He said, “I am still a left-arm spinner first. Getting wickets is my top priority and that is why I am picked in any playing XI. But since bowling alone is not a criteria these days, I started putting more effort in my batting also.”
Negi has his sights set on becoming a well-rounded player. He defines his approach to batting thusly, “My method of batting at the nets is simple. I never do traditional knocking. I always tell my coaches that give me a match simulation. I set imaginary targets of 40 from 24 balls or 33 from 18 balls. Accordingly, I decide the number of sixes I need to hit and also thinking about the possible field placements. This particular training method has come good in match situations,”
“I believe post my stint with CSK, my clarity about my own bowling has increased.” he added.It will be interesting to see how Pawan Negi lives up to the windfall of good fortune which has come his way. One can hope that India may have found a gem in the all-rounder.