The slow left-arm bowler delivered when he was handed the new ball by skipper Prithvi Shaw.ttmum
Left-arm orthodox Rahul Sawant is one of the trusted few spinners in Mumbai cricket that can open the bowling attack for their team.
The North Mumbai Panthers bowler, with his impressive ability to slow down the scoreboard while also providing crucial breakthroughs, was regularly given the new ball by skipper Prithvi Shaw during the second season of T20 Mumbai.
In an interview with Cricfacts, Rahul Sawant fondly recalled his first appearance for North Mumbai Panthers when he was asked to bowl the first over of the innings by Prithvi Shaw. The left-armer knew it was time to put his skills to test.
“During the team meeting, Prithvi Shaw wanted me to bowl the first over. We didn’t plan for this but we were all training with both new and old balls because we could be asked to bowl in any situation and at that time we should not give any excuse,” revealed Rahul Sawant.
The pressure of bowling the first over was elevated when the opposing batsman was the in-form Indian cricketer and NaMo Bandra Blasters captain Shreyas Iyer, who was also the highest run-scorer in the first edition of the league.
“There was a little pressure because Shreyas Iyer was batting. He had just returned from Delhi (Capitals in the Indian Premier League) after scoring a good knock. My career was just starting and I was going to bowl to such a big player,” he said.
Rahul Sawant, though under pressure, held his nerves to deliver an economical first over, giving away just four runs. He bowled in the right areas, not giving any room to the batsmen to swing their bats for big runs.
Noticing the success of his first over, Prithvi Shaw trusted him again with the ball in the third.
“Prithvi Shaw advised me to be clear about my intention and bowl with confidence,” Rahul Sawant said.
It didn’t take him much time to justify his captain’s decision as he scalped Shreyas Iyer on the first delivery, falling victim to a combination of thoughtful field placement by Prithvi Shaw and a crafty bowling effort.
“For the over, I had suggested that we should remove the slip since the ball wasn’t moving much. But Shaw insisted that he will remain in the slip for one ball.
“I was told that Shreyas Iyer would step out so I slowed down the delivery and it edged and landed in Prithvi Shaw’s hand,” he explained.
Getting Shreyas Iyer’s wicket was exactly the confidence booster Rahul Sawant needed to get going.
From there on he became the go-to man for North Mumbai Panthers, picking up timely wickets and capping the flow of runs whenever required.
“After getting Iyer’s wicket, I had the confidence of doing well in the other matches,” he said.
“My only aim was to not give away runs in the powerplay and if I don’t give runs, the batsman comes under pressure and is likely to commit a mistake,” he reasoned.
Consequently, Rahul Sawant routinely sent back the most potent batsmen of the opposition, picking up a wicket in all but one match of the league.
He ended as the most economical bowler of Season 2, giving away just 5.04 runs per over, and was instrumental in North Mumbai Panthers lifting the T20 Mumbai trophy.