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HomeCricketFrom Sonnet Club nets to IPL stardom: The rise of Mayank Yadav

From Sonnet Club nets to IPL stardom: The rise of Mayank Yadav


He caught Tarak Sinha’s attention at the Sonnet Club nets six years ago. Sinha could not take his eyes off this lanky, consistently quick bowler. In fact he was so impressed with his talent that he had instructed the Sonnet Club officials to not charge any fees from him.

For Sinha’s assistant, Davendra Sharma, the boy looked like a discovery worth investing in. “He had walked in with his father (Prabhu). Mayank’s determination to play for Delhi was evident in his approach. The senior group noticed him, and soon he rattled them with his raw pace. We found a fantastic talent, and I am glad he built on the guidance from Ustaad Ji (Sinha),” recalled Sharma.

“I always wanted my son to play cricket, and that too as a fast bowler,” said Prabhu Yadav, who ensured he provided Mayank Yadav with the platform to chase his cricketing dreams. Prabhu was self-employed, manufacturing sirens and lights for police vehicles.

“I went to a club in West Delhi where he was not encouraged even to join, let alone play. Then I heard of the Sonnet Club, where Mr. Sinha was famous for being an unbiased coach. That was the best decision of my life, and I chose to take Mayank to Mr. Sinha. That was the only time I went with him to the club because I was assured that Mr. Sinha and Davendra Ji were the best people to care for my son,” said Prabhu.

ALSO READ | IPL-2024: Debutant Mayank Yadav bowls fastest ball of tournament; full list of quickest deliveries this season

Mayank’s blistering pace in Delhi caused discomfort for the batters, a skill acknowledged by the coaches at Sonnet Club. He was always focused on his goal and adept at bowling with pace, as demonstrated in his standout performance for the Lucknow Super Giants against the Punjab Kings in the 2024 Indian Premier League match. The ball thudded into the bat as Mayank bowled with a splendid rhythm. “His rhythm is his strength,” said Gursharan Singh, who pushed for Mayank’s selection in the Delhi team for the Vijay Hazare tournament in December 2021. “He got wickets (six in two matches—three each against Saurashtra and Haryana) but essentially confirmed his talent.”

Mayank Yadav (l) and coach Davendra Sharma paying tribute to the late Sinha.

Mayank Yadav (l) and coach Davendra Sharma paying tribute to the late Sinha.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

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Mayank Yadav (l) and coach Davendra Sharma paying tribute to the late Sinha.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

Sinha’s passing two years ago could’ve derailed Mayank’s aspirations, but Sharma was there to support him. “Ustad Ji was fond of him. He was convinced he was India material, and Mayank realised he had to work hard to attain his goals. The lad was raw, but he was different. He made batters back away, which was uncommon in Delhi cricket,” said Sharma.

Recalling Mayank’s early days at the Sonnet, Sharma said: “He was amazingly accurate. For a fast bowler, it is difficult to bowl a consistent line, but Mayank was outstanding.”

Sharma told Mayank to improve his fitness. His ability to bowl fast was innate. The coaches knew he was quick but needed help measuring his speed. “I just let him be and bowl fast,” said Sharma.

The IPL match in Lucknow confirmed Mayank’s ability to bowl at 150-plus, and suddenly, the batters looked at him with awe. At 102 for no loss, Punjab was cruising when Mayank put a brake on its chase by taking the wickets of Jonny Bairstow, Prabhsimran Singh, and Jitesh Sharma. It was a performance that earned Mayank Player of the Match honours on his IPL debut.

“I was not surprised at all,” said Sharma. “He belonged to the big league because of his speed and the gift of bringing the ball in. It was the only time for Mayank to make an impression nationally.”

The Ranji Trophy debut against Maharashtra in 2022 was a welcome step in his pursuit to play for India, but a hamstring injury halted his progress. “The injury was a blow. He could not play first-class cricket,” Sharma pointed out.

Mayank turned out for Delhi in the Vijay Hazare (10 wickets in five matches) and Syed Mushtaq Ali (seven wickets in six matches) tournaments in 2022. “He worked tirelessly on his fitness. Mayank has a natural ability to push himself, and I am glad no one asked him to cut down on his pace. The speed he generates sets him apart,” said Sharma. In 2023, Mayank finished with five wickets in four matches in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy, seven in five in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and an impressive 12 in five Deodhar Trophy appearances.

LSG’s Mayank Yadav, during training ahead of the IPL 2024 match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at M.Chinnaswamy Stadium (KSCA), in Bengaluru.

LSG’s Mayank Yadav, during training ahead of the IPL 2024 match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at M.Chinnaswamy Stadium (KSCA), in Bengaluru.
| Photo Credit:
MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu

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LSG’s Mayank Yadav, during training ahead of the IPL 2024 match against Royal Challengers Bengaluru (RCB) at M.Chinnaswamy Stadium (KSCA), in Bengaluru.
| Photo Credit:
MURALI KUMAR K / The Hindu

With a classy high-arm action, Mayank is known to attack the off-stump. Most fast bowlers spray the ball to generate speed, but Mayank’s strength is his accuracy. “He does not stray, which puts pressure on the batters,” noted Sharma. 

The 21-year-old is undoubtedly surprised by the praise heaped upon him following his debut in the IPL, but coaches at the Sonnet Club always knew his potential. “It’s not easy to play him consistently on the front foot. The batters are often caught short of time adjusting because Mayank is quick—consistently quick,” said Gursharan, the Delhi team’s batting coach, when not on the selection committee. It was Mayank’s fortune that he got the support of Gursharan, who is well aware of the system in Delhi cricket.

The Delhi selectors often overlook talented players, as seen in their past neglect of Virender Sehwag, Virat Kohli, and Rishabh Pant during their initial trials. In 2018, Mayank initially faced rejection but compelled the selectors to take notice of his impressive bowling speed, causing discomfort and fear among opposing batters in local tournaments.  Such pace at such local platforms was unnerving for the batters; quite a few were saved because of the helmets. “We won the Premier III Division DDCA title in 2023, thanks to his impactful bowling,” recalled Sharma.

Mayank can be menacing. He loves hitting the helmets, something he has come to love after growing up hearing stories of fast bowlers from his father. Prabhu’s fascination with bowlers hitting batters’ helmets paved the way for Mayank’s love of bowling fast and living his father’s dream. 

ALSO READ | Mayank Yadav: Have always loved things which have speed; visualised my debut for last two years

South African great Dale Steyn raved about Mayank in a social media post, even as former India wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya took pride in his decision to rope the Delhi speedster into the Lucknow squad.

Dahiya was stunned to watch Mayank in action at the nets during the Vijay Hazare Trophy two years ago. He needed little time to convince the Lucknow franchise to invest in Mayank. Known as a promising talent scout, Dahiya saw him bowl fast from such close quarters and knew immediately that he had found a “super talent.” Mayank earned a spot to play in the IPL and, in the process, may have taken a massive step towards achieving an India slot.

Mayank Yadav (standing third from R-L) with his teammates at Sonnet Club.

Mayank Yadav (standing third from R-L) with his teammates at Sonnet Club.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

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Mayank Yadav (standing third from R-L) with his teammates at Sonnet Club.
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

The season ahead holds promise for Mayank, already in the books of the national selectors, where Ajit Agarkar knows a thing or two about giving breaks to fast bowlers. Mayank can always take that journey by getting drafted as a nets bowler when India travels for the ICC T20 World Cup in June and Australia for the Test series. India may be tempted to pick him for Australia, where the pitches suit his style.

At 6’1”, the 21-year-old Yadav is a hot property in Indian cricket. He can bowl a deceptive, slower one and unleash a vicious bouncer, which makes him a dangerous bowler, especially on helpful pitches. His well-wishers hope he maintains his fitness and serves the national team.

Mayank joins a long list of West Delhi cricketers who rose based on their resilience: Sehwag, Kohli, Ishant, Shikhar Dhawan, Amit Mishra, Gautam Gambhir, Aakash Chopra, Atul Wassan, Raman Lamba, KP Bhaskar, and Sanjeev Sharma.

“A fast bowler of his potential is rare,” emphasised Sharma. With Mayank’s mind-blowing speed, Indian cricket can look forward to some exciting times.





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