Samad Fallah counts himself as a Wasim Akram fan and tried to mould himself on the lines of the Pakistani swing ace. “Wasim Akram is my idol and I am trying to learn and bowl like him. Of course, he is tall and I am a bit on the shorter side, so cannot do all that he did with the ball,” said the Maharashtra left-arm pacer, happy to have pushed Bengal on the backfoot with a 7-58 haul at the Holkar stadium. “I attended a clinic by Akram in New Delhi by virtue of winning a competition to spot fast bowlers.”
Batsmen foxed by the movement he generates off the seam with a whippy action, have to deal with the bowler’s multiple run-ups. “I have two or three run-ups which I use in different match situations.” Fallah’s best in first-class cricket is 8-98 in Pune against Baroda. Bengal batsmen were clueless against the southpaw on a lively track. “I did not get carried away seeing a green wicket and tried to make the batsmen play as much as possible.”
Fallah owes his hotelier father Mohammed Hussein Fallah a huge favour for support to continue with the game in Pune. “My father wanted to surprise me so put up my cricket stats like a menu inside Café Alpha. I had wanted to surprise him by getting into the Ranji Trophy squad,” said the Maharashtra bowling spearhead, bagging eight wickets on first-class debut against Himachal Pradesh in 2007. The display panel on the cafe wall back home in Shivaji Nagar will carry a fresh entry, by the time this tie ends.
Seven wickets in the semis at a neutral venue happened on the back of an excellent quarterfinal showing at the Wankhede against Mumbai, four in the first innings and three scalps in the second essay against the Ranji champion squad led by Zaheer Khan. “We have a team which supports each other and want to surprise opponents who under-estimate us,” said Fallah, two short of 200 (198 wickets in 50 match).
Maharashtra is 50 runs ahead in the first innings, but he cautions: “The wicket is difficult to bat, sometimes the ball stops on batsmen like it happened in Kedar Jadhav’s case. He was batting well and yet could not prevent driving back towards the bowler.” The highest Ranji run-getter this season was in the zone on day one, hitting stylish fours before checking a drive against Ashoke Dinda and popped a catch which the bowler caught on fourth attempt. He will get a second crack at Bengal, more wickets on his menu means trouble for batsmen.