Kashmir offie Rassol spins web around tourists

Parvez Rassol's background and a deplorable incident in Bangalore where he was pulled aside for possessing suspicious baggage have always overshadowed his cricket. It's not surprising that he's always hoped someday his performances on the field will take predominance. On Tuesday evening, the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) all-rounder finally realized his dream.

For once, his roots in the Valley or his past misadventures had seemed of little interest.

It was rather his off-spinning skills and the incredible figures of 7/45 against the touring Australians that hogged the limelight. Leading the way for Board President's XI, the 23-year-old had after all bamboozled the men from Down Under, setting an ominous precedent on the first day of their month-and-a-half long tour.

Rassol loomed large in the three spells he delivered as he helped Board President's XI bowl out the visiting side for a modest 241 in 88.3 overs on the opening day at the Guru Nanak College ground. Sticking to the bare essential basics for 28.3 overs, Rassol ended up claiming seven scalps, including Test regulars in opener Ed Cowan and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade.

"It's a great achievement for me to do so well against a team like Australia so by God's grace. If I get more chances, I'll look to do my best," he said, soon after finishing with his second-best first-class figures.

While the Australian batting outfit wasn't quite a full-strength one, Rassol still cannot be denied credit for his stellar spell. Not only did he keep collecting scalps at a rapid rate, the J&K talisman also proved to be extremely difficult to score off, going at an economy rate of 1.57.

His flight and ability to impart loop to his deliveries also put a wide smile on coach Lalchand Rajput's face. "Most of Rassol's wickets came as a result of tantalizing loop and spin off the wicket. Especially the ones where he got the batsman caught at short-leg. He also troubled them with a well-disguised drifter on a wicket that had help for spinners," he told The Indian Express.

"After a long time, I've seen an Indian off-spinner with such a classical action and a natural tendency to flight the ball. Seven wickets is a great achievement but it's still early days for him," Rajput added.

Rassol, who has always credited J&K coach Bishan Singh Bedi for having turned his cricket career around with telling inputs regarding spin bowling, also agrees with Rajput when it comes to the major weapon in his arsenal. "Flight is my strength. The dismissals of Smith and Wade brought me a lot of happiness as I was able to deceive them in the flight," the boy who turns 24 on Wednesday explains.

This has been a watershed season of momentous proportions already for Rassol. His outstanding Ranji Trophy season for J&K, where he took 33 wickets at 18.09 while also scoring 594 runs at an average of 54, was recognized by the national selectors and he was picked in an India A squad to face England in an ODI warm-up match. And at a time that India's spin cupboard seems bare if anything, there might be some heart-warming news on the horizon from unexpected quarters — like the Aussies found out in Chennai on Wednesday.

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