Vidya Jain Academy’s score was 53 for five when Sultan Ansari walked in. If that wasn’t enough of a crisis,Ansari also had an injured left wrist. Despite this,the 22-year-old all-rounder managed to score an unbeaten 101 off just 69 balls,to help his team post 243 for nine in their 40 overs.
It wasn’t quite enough to win his side the match,as Collage Group romped home by six wickets with ten balls to spare,thanks to a century from Rajasthan batsman Robin Bist. Nonetheless,it was Ansari’s innings that remained the highlight of Tuesday’s league encounter in the Lala Raghubir Singh Hot Weather tournament at Modern School.
“I wasn’t really prepared to play this match. I got injured while I dived during my last match at Dehradun. My wrist wasn’t moving very freely but our coach insisted that I will have to play at any cost. I took painkillers and agreed to bat at number seven instead of my regular position at number four. I was not expecting that our top-order would collapse so quickly,” says Ansari.
As he faced his first ball,the left-hander realised that his wrist couldn’t cock properly. He would have to abandon his usual bottom-handed style. “I had to play with my top hand. It was like my bottom hand was just giving enough support to lift the bat,” he says. “I curbed my instincts and kept telling myself that I have to stay at the wicket.”
Apart from that,Ansari had to shepherd his partner Gagan Sodhi,a fast bowler not known for his skill with the bat. “I told him to defend and not worry about scoring. Usually,bowlers have a tendency to get out playing rashly,so I had to keep reminding him after every over,” Ansari says. “Gagan managed to stay at the wicket long enough for us to decide to take the batting powerplay in the last four overs.” The two put on 110,with Sodhi scoring 41.
Ansari milked 33 in one over during the powerplay,smashing three fours,three sixes and a triple off a no-ball. “At the end it was a great score considering when I had walked into bat. I never thought we would reach anywhere near 243,” says Ansari. “But as my innings progressed,my wrist got used to the pressure of lifting the bat and it stopped hurting during the power play. I just kept hitting and it worked for me.”
Ansari rued a couple of run-out chances that his team missed,but was all praise for Bist,whose unbeaten 106 off 97 balls anchored Collage’s chase perfectly. “When Bist bhai came to bat,we were still in the game but the way he started taking ones and twos,he made it look so easy. He waited for the loose balls and kept rotating the strike,” says Ansari. “But had we not missed those two chances,it might have turned the match in our favour.”
The day might have ended on a losing note for Ansari,but it certainly counted as a personal highlight in his career.”Sometimes you don’t want to play but the end result is a delight. My wrist is hurting but since we have a four day rest,I hope it recovers fully so I play the next game and make sure that we win it,” Ansari says.
Brief Scores: Vidya Jain Academy 243 for 9 in 40 overs (Sultan Ansari not out 101,Gagan Sodhi 41,Karan Negi 29,Prateek Suneja 28,Narender Singh 2/34,Deepak Punia 2/46,Rakesh Rana 2/56); Collage Group 245 for 4 in 38.2 overs (Robin Bist 106 not out,Rameez Niyamat 51,Rohit Sharma 32 not out)