Maharashtra’s bowling mainstay

Samad Fallah looks more like a punk rocker than a successful professional cricketer. As he runs his hand through his streaked hair, the diamond studs in each ear shine. "A lot of people have misunderstood me because I wear these studs. They think I am a flashy troublemaker and someone who is here to have some fun," he says.

Samad's first-class record is definitely not that of someone who is just out to have fun. The 27-year-old left-arm fast bowler has 143 wickets in 34 first-class games at an average of 27.14. Fallah who made his debut for Maharashtra in November 2007 already has nine five-wicket hauls in India's premier domestic competition. In the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy season, Fallah's 31 wickets played an instrumental part in Maharashtra's march to the quarterfinals.

Fallah, born in Hyderabad, shifted to Pune with his parents when he was four. He never played age-group cricket for Maharashtra and when he was rejected during an U-19 selection trial for the state team, he thought that cricket had no future for him. "I played tennis ball cricket and some of my friends forced me to go for the U-19 trials. They told me I was a good bowler and the selectors would definitely pick me. I was rejected on the first day and I just lost it," he says. "I slipped into depression. My father owns a hotel and he said I better start helping him out there. However, I just couldn't concentrate on anything. I thought my life was over."

In 2006, Samad Fallah's friends persuaded him to play a one-off Poona District Cricket Association league game. Fallah scalped all ten wickets in the first innings and this spurred him on to give the MCA Invitational league a shot. "I played the Invitational without any expectations. I just bowled where my heart told me to bowl. I picked up 72 wickets in the nine games I played and I was called up to the Ranji team the following week," says Fallah.

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