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Delhi discard Milind Kumar averts landslide for Sikkim against Manipur

Milind Kumar came to bat in the sixth over and was unbeaten at the end of the days play.

cricket Updated: Nov 01, 2018 22:08 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
Milind Kumar,Sikkim Cricket team,Delhi Cricket team
Milind Kumar hit 29 boundaries in what was a superb knock against Manipur in Ranji Trophy.(Twitter)

Just when it looked like it would be all downhill, Milind Kumar took up Sikkim’s case. By staying unconquered on 202 ( 248 balls; 4x29, 2x6) at stumps, Kumar, 27, helped Sikkim to 299/9 against Manipur on the first day of this Ranji Trophy tie between debutants, a score that had Sourav Ganguly complementing the teams for a good day of cricket.

“I am a firm believer in people learning to swim when they are thrown in at the deep end,” said Ganguly when asked whether he felt Northeast states should have been asked to take the stairs to domestic cricket’s top tier instead of being put in an elevator.

At 15/5, it didn’t look like the game would be this evenly poised. Shelly Shaurya, another Delhi cast-off who was also with Gujarat Lions; he was born in Manipur but had moved to the capital because the hills weren’t really alive with the sound of cricket, had exploited the early moisture at Salt Lake’s Jadavpur University ground to catch Sikkim on the hop. A hamstring strain ended his medium-pace effort after 11.4 overs but in that time he had taken 4/39.

Left-arm medium-pacer Rajkumar Rex Singh, a small 18-year-old who took to cricket because his house in Imphal was next to a field where older boys would play the sport, finished the day on 3/65 from 22 overs. The tall Bishworjit Singh, a boxer who turned to cricket two years ago because a shoulder injury ended hopes of becoming the next Dingko Singh, bowled 20 wicket-less overs because by then Kumar had taken charge.

“Yes, I miss not playing for Delhi but they put me on standby while Sikkim gave me a chance,” said the batsman from Karol Bagh who scored 78 for Delhi in a warm-up game against England in 2013. “This is my second-best knock,” said Kumar. Runs against England hadn’t got him out of Shikhar Dhawan’s shadows because Dhawan made 110 in that game. On Thursday, he was the cynosure.

“Runs are runs and they don’t matter less because they haven’t come at the elite level,” he said. Kumar didn’t say whether rejection has left a bitter aftertaste but said there is greater motivation to score this term. It is also somewhat difficult, he said, because many teammates are new to cricket and hence need mentoring in the middle. “You need to take them along.”

Formerly with Delhi Daredevils, Kumar still needs to look up his teammates’ names and said he has never been to Sikkim (the team trained in Bhubaneswar). Sikkim though will remember him as the man who averted disaster on their first Ranji Trophy day.

Brief Scores

In Kolkata: Sikkim 299/9 (Milind Kumar 202 not out, Bipul Sharma 45; Shelley Shaurya 4/39, Rex Singh 3/65) vs Manipur.

In Dehradun: Bihar 60; 22.1 overs (Deepak Dhapola 6/13). Uttarakhand 201/7 (Karanveer Kaushal 91, Saurabh Rawat 63). In Shillong: Arunachal Pradesh 166; 64.3 overs (Samarth Seth 50; Gurinder Singh 5/50, Lakhan Singh 3/38) vs Meghalaya 87/6; 23 overs.

In Dimapur: Mizoram 106; 47.2 overs (Taruwar Kohli 49; Abar Kazi 4/16, Imliwati 2/0, Pawan Suyal 2/42) vs Nagaland 189/4; 40 overs (Rongsen Jonathan 70 not out)

First Published: Nov 01, 2018 22:07 IST