Adam Zampa — from sidelines to spotlight

Visakhapatnam:Comparisons of Adam Zampa with the legendary Shane Warne are inevitable. More so if the bowling actions are similar and if you take 6/19 in a Twenty20 game.

The 24-year-old Rising Pune Supergiants leg-spinner may have school-boyish looks but is mature enough to brush aside such comparisons. His focus is on what he needs to do to rise in international cricket, having made the beginning at the start of the year in limited-overs internationals.

The Australian impressed in the ICC WT20 preceding the IPL, picking up 3/23 and 2/32 against Bangladesh and Pakistan, respectively. Just when it was hoped that the Indian fans will get to watch more of Zampa in the IPL, RPS captain MS Dhoni preferred unknown Tamil Nadu leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin to share the spin bowling with Ravichandran Ashwin.

Having been benched for the first nine matches, Zampa got a look-in against RCB last Saturday, courtesy injury to M Ashwin. And in only his second match, he produced the second best-ever bowling figures in IPL history – 4-0-19-6.

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Yet, Zampa ended up on the losing side as batting was not easy here at the YS Rajasekhara Reddy Stadium on Sunday. The only consolation for Zampa was the man-of-the-match award.

The disappointment on Zampa’s face showed post RPS’ four-run loss against SRH on Tuesday. He faced the improbable task of scoring a six off the only ball he faced and managed to nick Ashish Nehra behind for Naman Ojha, who pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch.

“It’s frustrating either way, if you get wickets or not, to be on the losing side. It’s never a nice feeling, particularly when your season is probably over as well. But we’re going to be together for the next season and try and gain some momentum going into that,” Zampa said, already looking ahead as Rising Pune Supergiants’ IPL season is all but over.

Asked how he utilised the time spent warming the bench for the first nine games, Zampa said: “It is always hard work when you know you are not getting the playing time, especially in my first IPL season, wanting make an impression straight away. When you are in the sidelines, all you can do is try and impress, and then try get on the park. But also in saying that, coming off a pretty big Australian season, you don’t want to over-train.”

SRH’s Moises Henriques said he felt pity for fellow Aussie Zampa, who started playing first-class cricket for New South Wales before moving to South Australia for better playing opportunities.

Henriques said of his 24-year-old countryman: “I’m very happy that he’s done well. He grew up in New South Wales, the same state where I did. He came through their U-17s and U-19s. It’s good to see him succeed. He bowled well in the World T20 as well. And it’s great for him to get an opportunity in the IPL, and now to show the IPL what he can do. It’s not too often that you see someone take 6/19, fantastic bowling figures.

“What I’ve always liked about him, when he even came through first for NSW as a young kid, is that he always wants to bowl, doesn’t matter who’s batting. He might get hit for a couple of sixes, but he always wants the ball in his hand.

“(On Tuesday) When Yuvi was set and on strike, he’d hit a couple of big sixes, Adam bowled again. I thought, ‘This is really going to test Adam, because Yuvi is obviously a very good player of spin bowling and is also very experienced’. But he got Yuvi out (caught at long-off). The wicket was conducive to spin bowling, but you’ve got to give him credit. He just wants the ball in his hand all the time.”

Zampa’s career can only go up from here on.