A century on debut is something that most batsmen dream of. Vijay Zol, at 19, has achieved this feat. He made 112 in his First-Class debut for India A against New Zealand A.
Two months later, he raised the bar higher, hammering an unbeaten 200 on his Ranji Trophy debut for Maharashtra against Tripura. Zol, back then had an average above 100 in First-Class cricket. However, the form of the 19-year-old from Jalna dipped.
In his next three innings, the left-hander scored four, 20 and 23. He bounced back in his fourth innings and compiled a watchful 73 against Andhra on a seaming wicket in Kapada. But his form tailed off again as he scored a couple of 20s, often getting out trying to play one shot too many.
“I had started in great fashion by scoring a couple of centuries. However, after that I could not really get going. Then I realized the value of patience that so many of my seniors and international cricketers had spoken about. I knew, I had the game for this level. But the difficult times taught me the value of patience,” Zol says.
Zol went back to the nets.
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“I practiced batting for long periods. I am not someone who minutely analyzes video footage. I kept on telling myself that I had to treat my failures in the right spirit. Rough patches are something that every batsmen will go through and for me, I just took it as a medium to improve my temperament,” he says.
Zol missed Maharashtra’s last two group games due to the Under-19 Asia Cup where he led India to victory. A 100 in the final against Pakistan helped him further boost his confidence.
He returned for Maharashtra’s quarter-final against Mumbai, having an average first innings, unfurling a couple of crisp drives before losing his stumps to Zaheer Khan. But in the second innings, a different Zol emerged. With Maharashtra needing 224 to win, Zol was dropped on three by Kaustubh Pawar. After that though, the left-hander dropped anchor. The tentative flashing outside the off-stump stopped, it was as if Zol had come down a couple of gears.
He batted for more than four hours and faced 180 balls for his 91, ultimately taking his team to victory. Zol who has 517 runs this season at 51.70.
Maharashtra coach, Surendra Bhave, who has worked with Zol since his under-15 days says that the batsman will benefit from his experience of playing in the Ranji Trophy final. “A player like Vijay who is playing the Ranji finals in his first season is sure to absorb a lot of positives from this experience. He has had a good season, he has performed well in some tough situations and I am sure he can carry on like this,” Bhave said.