Sai Kishore was the name on everyone’s lips after his match-winning spell of 4 for 33 against the Punjab Kings at Chandigarh. The left-arm orthodox spinner earned his career-best figures in his third match of the season. Bowling the twelfth over of the innings, he was hit for a six on the first delivery of his spell. But instead of being rattled he outfoxed Jitesh Sharma in the air and disturbed his stumps the next time he came down the wicket. In his next over, Ashutosh Sharma looked to take him on once again but only ended up giving an easy catch in the deep. That brought the big-hitting Shashank Singh to the crease, who was Punjab’s hero the last time the two teams met. Singh made the same mistake of giving Kishore the charge. Kishore read his intentions early and fired the delivery close to Singh, trapping him in an awkward position where all he could do was give the bowler an easy catch. But Kishore wasn’t done yet, after being dispatched to the boundary a couple of times by Harpreet Brar, he bowled another delivery up to the stumps that the batsman skied to long on. This performance helped our team restrict the host and bag an important away win.    

Kishore made his presence felt with the bat as well during the recent encounter against Delhi Capitals at the Arun Jaitley stadium. Chasing a target of 225, Sai’s little cameo of 13 runs from 6 deliveries, including a couple of sixes, helped our Titans fight against the hosts till the end. 

But things in Sai’s life weren’t always as steady as his current performances. Getting admission in an engineering college and then dropping out soon after to join a business analytics course, Sai had a fair share of academic detours. However, through all this, his dedication to cricket remained constant. 

A Love Affair with Cricket

“It was all destined.” 

These were Sai Kishore’s words during the GK Meets podcast last year when speaking about his journey. Coming from the ranks of Adambakkam Cricket Academy, Sai’s love for the game started at a very young age. In the podcast, Sai also mentioned that it took him only three years to play state cricket after joining the academy when he was in the seventh grade. 

Sai initially came into the spotlight back in 2016 during a TNPL match. After an aggressive celebration for a wicket, he became the talk of the town. But instead of letting the incident derail him, Sai used it as a turning point. The slow-left-arm bowler admitted his mistake and worked on his bowling and his temperament. This resulted in Kishore soon making his debut across formats in domestic cricket.

Taking domestic cricket by storm 

After that TNPL season, it took Sai less than a year to make his List A debut for Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on March 12, 2017. Sai soon made his way into the longest format as well; his first-class call-up coming later that year in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy. Finally, he got his much-awaited T20 debut for Tamil Nadu in the Zonal T20 League in January 2018. 

He established his authority in the domestic circuit in his debut season. The 2018-19 Ranji Trophy further cemented Sai’s place in the top-tier domestic competition. Sai became the leading wicket-taker of the season for Tamil Nadu with 22 wickets from the six matches that he was part of. 

Sai’s impressive form with the ball continued into the next year as well when he made an impact in the shorter version of the game. His performances during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2019 made it one to remember for the bowler. 23 years old at the time, Sai finished off the tournament with 20 wickets in 12 games at an economy rate of just 4.63. Sai also showed a glimpse of becoming a successful powerplay bowler as he scalped 15 of those 20 wickets during the first six overs of each match. 

His impressive season in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy saw Sai get picked during the 2020 IPL auction. However, he had to wait for a couple of years for his IPL debut, which came with the Gujarat Titans in the 2022 IPL season. Sai featured in five games during the 2022 season of the IPL, taking 6 wickets with an impressive economy rate of 7.56.

Here’s an interesting fact - before making his IPL debut, Sai was also a part of Team India’s squad for the final two T20 international matches against Sri Lanka in 2021 after initially being named as one of the net bowlers to tour with the team. 

Ticket to China

But Sai had his dream come true in 2023. He was named in India’s men’s cricket team for the Hangzhou Asian Games in 2023. Sai made the most of his well-earned opportunity in national colors, where he took 4 wickets from 3 games at an average of 15.75 and with an incredible economy rate of 5.25.

Sai’s debut against Pakistan remained special by all means. Following the game, Sai took to Instagram to leave a heartfelt message where he mentioned, “MIRACLES DO HAPPEN.” 

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A round of applause from his idol

Perhaps one of the biggest highlights of Sai’s career came during his latest Ranji Trophy campaign in 2024. Scalping 53 wickets from 9 games at an average of 18.49, Sai managed to earn praise from his idol, Ravichandran Ashwin. During the semi-final against Mumbai, Sai earned his career-best figures, taking six wickets for 99 runs. Following his impressive display of spin bowling, Ashwin took to X to hail Sai Kishore’s effort.

Forged by an undying will, Sai’s journey has made him into the battle-hardened Titan that he is today. If he continues with the same form, there is undoubtedly much in store for the curly-haired lad from Chennai.