The similarities between Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Sr) and his namesake in the Mumbai line-up seem to be ever growing. India's 1983 World Cupper said he sees flashes of him when Sandhu (Jr) swings the ball. They already share a common name; swing bowling and identical (fifer) hauls on first-class debut.

Balwinder Sandhu

Sandhu (Jr), who had picked up a fifer on his debut against Punjab last month, was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy semi-final clash against Tamil Nadu at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. After being thrashed away for some runs initially in his spell, Sandhu (Jr) came back strongly to rattle the opposition, claiming four for 80. Taking back-to-back wickets in the form of S Badrinath (56) and ex-skipper Dinesh Karthik (0) put breaks on the visitors scoring spree.

On Song: Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Jr) bowls during the Ranji Trophy
semi-final match against Tamil Nadu at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Pics/Suresh kk

However, it was Ramaswamy Prasanna (81 not out) and Yo Mahesh (34 not out), who did the rescue act for Tamil Nadu after being six down for 139 at one point. The duo's unbeaten stand of 111 for the seventh wicket helped the visitors finish Day One at 250 for six. Mumbai's Dhawal Kulkarni bagged a couple, including the dangerous Abhinav Mukund (4).

The former India pacer, who was present at the ground, was impressed with Sandhu's (Jr) ability to swing the ball. "I see similar sparks in the way he swings the ball. It's like mine when I was this young. It is too early to say anything, but this guy definitely has a good future," Sandhu told MiD DAY yesterday.

The former Mumbai coach, however, felt Sandhu (Jr) has a lot to learn from yesterday's performance. "He was lucky to get those two wickets -- Badrinath and Karthik. He was trying to attack with every ball. He has to learn to be patient. It is important to maintain good discipline with line and length. He has to learn to bowl tight. Had he maintained that, he wouldn't have been thrashed early on in the innings," said Sandhu.

Badrinath, who was looking to settle down, got out to a poor shot, dragging a wide ball on to his stumps. Karthik departed in the next ball after being adjudged leg-before dubiously, giving Sandhu (Jr) a chance to claim his maiden hat-trick in first-class cricket. K Vasudevadas (14) and Sunny Gupta (12) were Sandhu's other victims.
However, Sandhu Senior reckoned more experience would help the youngster improve. "I am sure he will get better with experience. He will learn how to handle all this as he plays more games. He has a long way to go," Sandhu
signed off.