Ranji Trophy: Journeyman Bhavin Thakkar hits ‘home run’

Returning to Mumbai after making a switch to Kerala earlier this season, Bhavin Thakkar slams hundred against Goa.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai | Updated: November 14, 2016 9:06 am
Kerala vs Goa, Goa vs Kerala, Bhavin Thakkar, Thakkar, Bhavin Thakkar Rohan Prem, Ranji Trophy 2016, Ranji Trophy, Cricket news, Cricket Bhavin Thakkar and Rohan Prem’s 236-run partnership put Kerala in a dominant position. (Express photo by Kevin D’Souza)

TO CALL Bhavin Thakkar a journeyman would be an understatement. So itinerant has his career been so far that he’s probably fit to be called the ultimate pan-Indian first-class cricketer. You just need to take a look at all the teams he’s represented so far. It obviously started with his home team Mumbai in the west, before he went to Himachal Pradesh in the north and then came Jharkhand in the east. That is before he moved to his present team, Kerala in the south.

Though the 34-year-old has never been too shy to take on every opportunity that comes his way. His present move isn’t one that he expected or really planned for. After all, Thakkar was opening the batting for Mumbai as recently as in February in last season’s Ranji Trophy semifinal, a surprise call-up but one that many thought was a second-coming for the veteran in his original team.

However, less than a few months later, Thakkar was back in no man’s land again when he didn’t find his name in the Mumbai’s probables list for the 2016-17 season. It meant a lot of anxiety and many frantic phone calls to all his friends on the circuit with the same request; “dekh kuch ho sakta hai kya kaheen”. That is before Kerala came calling.

Memorable return

On Sunday, Thakkar made a memorable return to Mumbai with a steady ton at a ground, Brabourne Stadium, where he’s played most of his cricket to take his latest adopted team to a strong position against Goa in the company of another veteran, Rohan Prem.

You could call it a neutral venue but Thakkar has represented CCI for well over a decade and he still plays for the club in all local competitions. The only way this could have been better is if the opposition was Mumbai. Maybe he could then raised his bat towards the opposition dressing-room too then, kind of to prove a point.

But it was also the kind of knock that is expected of you when you sign up as a professional player, something that Thakkar knows all too well. “Koi zone nahi chodha hai maine. But wherever you go the pressures are the same,” Thakkar said at the end of the day. It was also a crucial innings in terms of the match. Kerala had lost Vishnu Vinod as early as the seventh over.

But Thakkar did what he’s known for, digging deep and settling in for a long, steady knock. He never tried forcing the pace instead waiting for the opposition to bowl in his areas. Prem was doing pretty much the same at the other end.

It was only in the nervous nineties that Thakkar ironically looked for a big shot and he connected well too, lofting left-arm spinner Darshan Misal over the top of his head for four before finding the gap through the cover region to bring up his century. He leaped in the air and justifiably celebrated his milestone. He looked good for a longer haul but was soon bowled while attempting a sweep off Shadab Jakati.

By then he had put on 234 for the second wicket with Prem and put his team well on track for a sizable total. Prem remained unbeaten on 120 with Sanju Samson for company. There’s still a lot of firepower left in the Kerala line-up and they look good to add a lot more to their already impressive total which presently reads 290 for 2.

Brief Scores: Kerala 290/2 (Rohan Prem 120*, Bhavin Thakkar 117; Rituraj Singh 1-21).

KL Rahul’s emphatic comeback

Vizianagaram: KL Rahul announced his comeback from injury in style as he smashed 76 off only 85 balls as Karnataka scored 345 for six against Rajasthan in a group B Ranji Trophy encounter, on Sunday.

With veteran Gautam Gambhir looking out of sync with his flawed technique against seam bowling, the Indian team management is desperate to get Rahul back in the fold as he was playing brilliantly before a hamstring injury during the Kanpur Test against New Zealand.

With Anil Kumble setting a protocol that one Ranji Trophy match being must to test the match fitness, Rahul passed the batting test in flying colours as he hit 15 fours and a six in his 85 balls. He scored 66 runs in boundaries in 16 scoring strokes.

He was severe on both Pankaj Singh and Deepak Chahar hitting some flowing drives off both front and backfoot. Rahul was finally out nicking one off left-arm seamer Tanvir Mantesar ul Haq to Chetan Bist.

Rahul and opener Ravikumar Samarth (62) added 111 runs in 24.3 overs. It was for Rahul that Mayank Agarwal batted at No 4 as the selectors need to keep a tab on his fitness more than the runs that he would be scoring. Agarwal, who otherwise opens, came in at No 4 to score 81 off 127 balls with 12 boundaries. Stuart
Binny (37) and CM Gautham (35) were set before getting dismissed.

Brief Scores: Karnataka 345/6 (KL Rahul 76, Mayank Agarwal 81, Tanvir Mantesar ul Haq 3/64) vs Rajasthan.