New Delhi, May 2: When Imran Khan, a young aspiring first-class cricketer took his younger brother Mohsin to Badruddin Siddiqui for guidance, the coach didn't know what to make of the short and slight player from Moradabad's Sambhal area.
With eight wickets from four games, Mohsin is the latest among the group of rookie pacers, who have started making waves in this year's IPL. Badruddin is one of the well-known grassroots level coaches in UP, having groomed the versatile Mohammed Shami during his initial years.
"It was more than a decade back when Mohsin's elder brother Imran used to come to my academy. By then Shami had moved to Kolkata and was playing Ranji Trophy. It was Imran who told me that his younger Mohsin is interested and if he could bring him for training," Badruddin recollected after his ward took 4/16, including wickets of David Warner, Rishabh Pant and Rovman Powell to win it for Lucknow Super Giants.
Badruddin remembers that initially Mohsin was like any other 13-year-old, who would at times be a tad inattentive.
"Kids of that age would be like that. Suddenly, he is bowling and next moment I see him padded up and taking guard. He would get scolded by me but if I am honest, 10 years back, I never felt seeing his physique that he could become a potent fast bowler," the coach said.
"However, his height shot up in a year and he became six feet tall. His game went to a different level and he started working hard with full focus," the coach said.
Multan Khan, a retired cop with UP Police had full faith in Badruddin since he was Shami's coach and left it entirely on him to guide his son.
"Imran unfortunately couldn't continue and later cleared state government exam and is now employed. But their father left all cricketing decisions with me. Once he got selected in the Vijay Merchant Trophy (U-16 Nationals), I knew he would come up the ranks," he said.
In fact, just like Shami left for Kolkata to face the bump and grind of tough club cricket, Badruddin also sent Mohsin to Kolkata based coach Abdul Monayem so that he could arrange a first division club for him.
Lot of youngsters from Meerut ply their trade as professionals in Kolkata but as luck would have it, Mohsin had to come back as he was selected for U-19 UP side.
"I remember Mohsin as he played in some practice matches between club teams that we had arranged pre-season. He attracted a lot of attention with his 6 feet 3 inch frame and would release the ball from around 10 feet after jump. He was a fine talent but he had to go back," Monayem recollected.
While he has been primarily a white-ball bowler, in 2020 during first lockdown post COVID-19, Mohsin got a rare chance to train with Shami at his residential ground in Amroha.
Shami owns a proper private ground at his native place where he has developed turf pitches and along with Badruddin, his younger brother Mohammed Kaif and Mohsin trained there during lockdown.
"It was a very small group and I had called Mohsin so that he could train and learn watching Shami. I also wated Shami to have a look at him and give his feedback as to how he was shaping up.
"What I felt was that Shami was impressed and gave him a lot of tips. He has often enquired about Mohsin's progress. And trust me you have seen his bowling but he is an equally capable had-hitting batter," Badruddin said.
Lucknow is not the first team for Mohsin as he was picked by Mumbai Indians some years back after attending trials. It was learnt a senior BCCI official's right-hand man back then had really helped Mohsin get a first foothold but MI then had a set team and he didn't get chance to play.
Before Vijay Dahiya joined Lucknow Super Giants as an assistant coach this season, he already had worked as the senior UP team's head coach and already had a first hand knowledge about Mohsin's talent which came in handy at the auction.
Dahiya, perhaps, one of the best talent spotters in the country, had preferred playing Mohsin in one of the games ahead of the seasoned Ankit Rajpoot.
"Apart from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, we had three premier pacers --Yash (Dayal), Ankit and Mohsin. In one of the T20 games, we gave Ankit a break and played Mohsin.
"The extra bounce that he gets due to his height will always be an advantage. He is humble, gentle and hardworking, the attributes one always likes," Dahiya said.
Setting a player of Pant's calibre with short balls and then a dipping fuller delivery showed how he can be a 'Director's Actor', in this case a captain's perfect executor, but the tougher journey will start now.
"The challenge now is to remain grounded and the real test of temperament will happen in this tournament itself. Not all days will be same. A game will be round the corner where batters will go hell for leather against him. How he comes back will tell us how he will be doing in future. In the end, we all have our future in our own hands," Dahiya concluded.