An old friend returns! In the 2018 IPL Auction, the Rajasthan Royals bidders didn’t hang about when Dhawal Kulkarni’s name came up. The right-arm medium-pacer can be very handy in the shortest format of the game, the kind of bowler who can turn a game on its head, so they pounced. Dhawal is the kind of bowler who depends on seam movement and swing rather than raw pace – often carefully thinking a batsman out with clever variations. Dhawal’s cricketing career began after his impressive performances for Mumbai Under-17s in the 2005-06 Vijay Merchant Trophy. He then went up through the age groups, playing so well at the U-19 state level that he was selected for the India U-19 tour of Sri Lanka in 2007. He continued to excel and was rewarded with a spot in Mumbai’s side for the Ranji one-dayers in 2008, as well as a contract with Mumbai Indians.
In his first Ranji season, Dhawal emerged the tournament’s most successful bowler, taking 42 wickets. His fantastic breakthrough season continued with his inclusion in the Test squad for the tour of New Zealand in 2009. Although he didn’t feature for his country then, five years later he did make his international debut, in the fourth ODI during India’s tour of England. Later that year, in the home ODI series against Sri Lanka, Dhawal picked up eight wickets at an average of 18.62, so it’s perhaps a surprise he hasn’t played more for India in the years that followed. However, he did make his T20 International debut against Zimbabwe at Harare in June 2016. In domestic cricket, Kulkarni has established himself as one of the leading seam bowlers in the country, picking up over 200 first-class wickets. He is a big match player, picking up ‘Michelles’ (five-fors) in the Ranji Trophy finals of 2008-09, 2012-13 and 2015-16. Kulkarni also helped Mumbai out of a tough situation with the bat in the 2009-10 final, his second-innings 87 proving critical in a narrow win over Karnataka. Kulkarni played well for the Mumbai Indians in the first five seasons of the IPL, before moving to the Royals ahead of the 2013 season. Dhawal played a consistent role with the new ball for us – and we look forward to more of the same in IPL 2018. Good to have you back mate!