Who is this 22-year-old who comes in and drags Rashid for a six and chops Ferguson for another?
“How do I answer that question?” said Badoni. How can a 22-year-old answer that?
That’s exactly how Delhi cricket is. You get one hit in three years for reasons you don’t know, and then boom – someone from Delhi cricket takes you to the big time.
“Gautam bhaiya He supported me a lot,” Badoni said after the game. “He told me to just play my natural game. He told me you don’t get that one match, but you get a good run. He also told me, ‘You don’t have to play based on the situation. That’s what older players are for. You show us your natural game.”
It’s been a bit of a wilderness for him since the Under-19 days. India’s NCA and Under-19 programs aim to prepare the young players to establish them in their state’s premier league right after their Under-19 stints, but there’s not much they can do if the state rosters don’t work for the players. Badoni seems to be one of those cases.
“I’ve been up for auction for three years and have gone unsold,” Badoni said of the intervening three years. “I went to trials for two or three teams, but in the end nobody picked me at the auction. So I’m grateful to Lucknow for choosing me.
“The past three years have been a bit of a struggle. I didn’t get much chance at Delhi either. I only played one season and was only allowed to bat once. Before that I improved my game, added more shots, which helped me a lot .”
Once he was picked up by Super Giants, Badoni managed to impress all the coaches. “In the exhibition games for Lucknow I scored fifty thousand in both games,” said Badoni. “Gautam bhaiya liked that, and the other coaches were impressed too. So they believed I could punch for Krunal.”
So Badoni may not be able to answer the question of where he’s been hiding for the past three years, but after this debut, he could eventually force some decision-makers in Delhi to ask themselves that question.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo