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Shib Shankar Paul: The New Bengal Tiger on the Prowl

At a time when the Bengal tigers are getting extinct, in comes the news of an all new roaring tiger in the game of cricket, in the same Royal Sense as our traditional Bengal Tiger. In many ways he is similar to the Tiger as he roars with the seam of a cricket ball, and rages to take on the challenge of bowling to top order batsman in the Domestic circuit.

Shib Shankar Paul was waiting for the Selector’s call as much as anyone else, but with supreme performances in this year with India A, he deserved that call unlike no other to represent India; the 2004 season has been outstanding work by this right arm medium pacer.

Born on November 4, 1981, in Tufanganj, Bengal, this youngster has been the blue-eyed Star in the current Indian Domestic season, capturing as many as 50 wickets in just 8 matches and that speaks volumes for his immense talent. He made his First Class Debut for Bengal on Nov 19, 2000, against Tripura at Eden Gardens, Calcutta, which has been his prime Fort lucky ground; he has 22 wickets there (maximum on any ground for him!).

After playing in that season (2000-01) with 14 wickets, he played only 3 games in the year 2002 for Bengal, in which he did not make any impact, barely got 2 wickets. and failed to capitalize on his good start in his debut season. The next season was also quite ordinary for Shib Shankar Paul.

Shib Shankar Paul was an unknown cricketer in the circuits until 23rd November 2003 when Bengal faced Tamil Nadu at the Indian Cement Company Ground, Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy. In that particular game for Bengal against Tamil Nadu, he pounced on the TN batsmen making them struggle to survive, with his nagging line outside the off stump. Under the Captaincy of Devang Gandhi, this bowler, nicknamed “Macho” by his teammates, dispatched the TN Scorecard back to the cleaners, by clean wiping 7 batsmen for a mere 44 runs in 24.1 overs. Tamil Nadu followed on in that game, and managed to salvage a draw by playing better in the second Innings, not before that youngster Paul again continuing the torture with 3 more wickets.

In just as many as 22 First Class games, he has 88 wickets with 8 five wicket hauls, and 2 ten wicket hauls in the matches. His average of 24.23 is on par with any world class bowler, which means he dries up the runs and also picks up wickets. So it is miserly bowling as an addition to striking with the new ball, which in anybody’s book ranks as magnificent.

His current Domestic Season in the International First Class Arena has also been sublime. He represented India A when they toured Zimbabwe in Aug 2004, and he simply deformed the Zimbabwean batting; stamped his superiority in the Zimbabwean innings with figures of 6-46 and an equally good 6-56 in the second, thus enabling India A to win by 10 wickets. No prizes for guessing who deserved the Man of the Match, if there was one! He has also captured a handful of wickets in the Triangular Tournament in Kenya earlier this year, featuring Pakistan A and India A. He took 13 wickets in that series for India A.

He is one of the few players for Bengal called up by the Indian team along with Rohan Gavaskar in the last few years. Shib Shankar Paul’s forte has been bowling wicket to wicket with the away swinger being his stock delivery. He is a bowler who does not fancy the gimmicks of experimentation. He just sticks to the basics and produces results time and again.

He is not an express fast bowler, but an intelligent bowler who uses the seam of the cricket ball to the maximum possible extent, more in the medium pace category in the McGrath school of fast bowlers. He relishes and thrives on the challenges and thoroughly enjoys bowling.

The selectors could not have made that surprise call to Paul at a better time; the timing has been perfect, right when this talent galore bowler has been peaking. His performances have indeed been appealing and he caught the eyes and attention of all of us, for what he has in store for Indian cricket if he dons the Indian colors, it could solve our perennial problem of the back up bowler.

India Cricket currently with sagging sprits and drooping shoulders really needs the spark of this chirpy young cricketer. Paul is definitely the face of the future, who is capable of changing the phase of Cricket in a matter of minutes. We at wish this newcomer to International cricket all the very best.