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THE IPL has given many cricketers a stage to showcase their talent, and one man who grabbed the first chance he got is Chennai's S. Vidyut, who top-scored with 54 in the last game.

Vidyut began in the under-19s as a spinner who could bat a bit, but completely turned things around. He wrote himself into the record books in only his second season, cracking a century at No. 11, something no one else had done in first-class cricket.

n 2005 he had five minutes of fame, when he opened the batting with Sachin Tendulkar in the Challenger Series, and slammed 87. But since then, the going has been tough. Struggles with fitness and indifferent form meant he could not cement a spot in the Tamil Nadu team, and it took a couple of hundreds in the domestic one-dayers this season to earn him an IPL contract.

"I had never played in front of a crowd like this, in this kind of atmosphere," Vidyut told HT. "When I walked out to bat I was tense but middling the first ball I faced, and hitting it for four helped. Then Dhoni came to me and told me to just enjoy the game."

But what really did it for people who have watched Vidyut over the years was his down-the-pitch waltz to Virender Sehwag that resulted in a huge straight six. "I knew the ball wasn't spinning much and mid-on and mid-off were pretty straight. I just thought I had to keep my eyes on the ball till the last moment."

Vidyut's father, V Sivaramakrishnan, played 100 first-class matches for Tamil Nadu, South Zone and against visiting teams, narrowly missing out on a berth in the national squad. A stylish and attacking left-hand batsman, Sivaramakrishnan has been a doting father, eagerly watching his son's cricketing progress.

"I worked very hard at my game and had high concentration levels but that was a different time," he said. "I was a regular in the Ranji team and we played for enjoyment then. But watching Vidyut perform on a stage like this was really pleasing for me. It's like an international event and it gets noticed more. With this knock, and hopefully a couple of more good ones, I'm hoping we'll see a transformation in his game."

Sivaramakrishnan added that having been a cricketer himself was both an advantage and a disadvantage when watching his son. "I am able to watch a bit closely, analyse and maybe pass on some tips. But when you know someone has talent, and is not making it to teams, it's frustrating. I know Vidyut has the ability to make it big."

All the while, though, Shiv is clear that he's not looking to live out his own dreams through Vidyut. "Even if he had not played the game, I would not have been disappointed."

When Shiv made his first-class debut back in 1973, he was paid Rs 25 per day for a Ranji match. Today his son is playing in the highest-paid cricket league in the world, with dreams of making it really big.
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