Maharaj in enjoying a nostalgic IPL journey with the Rajasthan Royals

Mullanpur: IPL match between Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals at Maharaja Yadavindra Singh International Cricket Stadium

Mullanpur: IPL match between Punjab Kings and Rajasthan Royals at Maharaja Yadavindra Singh International Cricket Stadium

Published Apr 24, 2024


THERE is something special about late-bloomers. They have to endure extended periods of self-doubt and learn to master the art of patience. Durban-born spinner Keshav Maharaj is one.

It took Maharaj eight years of international cricket to finally attract the attention of the Indian Premier League (IPL) bosses – a league most cricketers dream to be a part of – making the long journey to the biggest stage a little sweeter.

The slow, left-arm orthodox now has two IPL games under the belt and has returned impressive figures of 2-23 and 0-16.

“It’s a privilege to be part of the official squad of the Rajasthan Royals,” said Maharaj. “Having played my first game, I think it was a beautiful experience, the fans are amazing over here.”

The 34-year-old caught the attention of the Rajasthan Royals, a team situated in the northern parts of India, an area of deep significance for the Maharaj family at large. Maharaj’s great grandfather came from Sultanpur, a city in the state of Uttar Pradesh in north India, before he migrated to Durban in 1874.

It is this feat that has made the spinner’s journey a lot more satisfying having been roped in by the Rajasthan Royals as a replacement for the injured Indian fast bowler, Prasidh Krishna.

Maharaj described the feeling of playing his debut IPL season in north India as nostalgic.

“It’s a very nostalgic feeling to come back to a place where your great grandparents were born,” he said. “For my family, it’s definitely one of the highlights of my career being able to don the Rajasthan Royals shirt. (It makes me) emotional for all the years of hard work to see it working out and coming together.”

Moreover, the spinner is surrounded by some of this generation’s best spinners in Ravichandran Ashwin, a stalwart with a century of Test matches under the belt and more than 500 wickets for India. Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, another India international, also bowls alongside Maharaj in the pink and navy-blue colours of the Rajasthan Royals, making up an impressive spin-trio.

Maharaj aims to pick the brains of these generational talents in an attempt to further strengthen his game and widen his repertoire.

However, what gives Maharaj an even higher ceiling in terms of achievements in his career is how deep he takes his preparation. The 34-year-old is known to pay close attention to detail befoere and after matches.

His close relationship with former Proteas and Royal Challengers Bangalore video analyst, Prasanna Agoram, paints a vivid image of just how serious Maharaj takes his preparation.

“I am someone who does a lot of research. I watch a lot of videos and watch a lot of cricket. So I’d like to think it’s the homework that I do off the field that translates on the field,” he said.

“To play with someone like Ash and Yuzvi, it’s one of the greatest learning curves of my career. They are people who have excelled in various formats of the game.

“I love Test cricket, so I’m always picking Ash’s brain and he’s someone who’s always passing down knowledge and experience. Yuzvi is provably the best leg-spinner in white ball cricket currently, so I try to emulate the things that he does that have made him successful over the years.”

The Rajasthan Royals return to action on Saturday where they will take on Quinton de Kock’s Lucknow Super Giants.