Sameer Khan, standing at just under five feet tall and recently celebrating his 16th birthday, took the spotlight one Thursday afternoon. This high school student, belonging to Kapurthala, India, presented a significant challenge to the towering Marcus Stoinis, who stands at 6’4″, during Australia’s practice session leading up to the first ODI against India.
Despite his modest stature, Sameer confidently delivered his slow left-arm orthodox spin to Stoinis for an impressive duration of around 20 minutes. It was a mesmerizing sight to witness an international cricketer face difficulties against a young schoolboy.
Stoinis graciously acknowledged Sameer’s skill with approving nods. Contrary to expectations, Sameer appeared to unsettle Stoinis with the speed and flat trajectory of his deliveries.
“I managed to dismiss Stoinis leg-before on a couple of occasions today. The coaches didn’t provide specific instructions about where to bowl, so I followed my natural instincts. Stoinis appeared uncomfortable when attempting to play on the back foot. I bowled with speed and pitched it up,” Sameer shared following the practice session.
Sameer has earned a place in Punjab’s U-19 squad and has been accommodated in a local hotel for the past two days to contribute his spin bowling expertise to the Australian batters.
“Yesterday, I had an extended bowling session with Steve Smith. It was an incredible experience, and I felt elated. Some of them even complimented my bowling,” said Sameer, the son of a bed-sheet seller from Kapurthala.
“We are a family of four brothers and a sister, and my parents have wholeheartedly supported my decision to pursue cricket. I participated in the Punjab T20 League and had the opportunity to play in seven matches, where I managed to take five wickets.”
With Ashton Agar absent due to paternity leave, Australia seemed to require practice against finger spinners, particularly in light of Kuldeep Yadav’s unavailability for the first two games. During the practice session at the Australia nets on that particular day, the emphasis was predominantly on left-arm spinners to counter the threat posed by Ravindra Jadeja. Consequently, four left-arm spinners bowled in tandem alongside Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, and Mitchell Starc.