As 20-year-old Mohammed Arslan Khan (119 no), 24-year-old Shivam Bhambri (105) and 28-year-old Shreshth Nirmohi (5 for 26) made their way together to the Chandigarh dressing room after the end of the day’s play, the trio had got their names written in the record books of Chandigarh cricket. With Chandigarh playing its maiden Ranji Trophy match in the form of plate group match against Arunachal Pradesh ending a 37-year-old wait, Nirmohi became the first bowler to take five wickets representing Chandigarh while Khan became the first-ever centurion for the team, followed by Bhambri’s century. While Nirmohi and Bhambri had played for Chandigarh in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, it was a day of debut for Khan as the youngster was handed the Chandigarh cap by wicket-keeper Uday Kaul.
“When I was handed the cap by Uday Kaul bhai, I was a bit emotional as it was for the first time that I was wearing the Chandigarh senior team cap. Players like Uday Kaul, Bipul Sharma and skipper Manan Vohra always boost confidence of a youngster like me. It feels special to become Chandigarh’s first centurion in Ranji Trophy. The wicket was good for batting and I wanted to utilise my chance. My target is now to bat as longer as I can on Tuesday and to aim for a score bigger than 200. My father’s tailoring showroom is about 500m from here in Sector 17 and my elder brother and some of the workers too had come to watch the match. I am glad I scored a century in front of them,” said Mohammed, whose father Zabih Ullah Khan runs a tailoring showroom in Sector 17.
While Mohammed had shown his form with five centuries and two half-centuries for Chandigarh U-23 team in the BCCI U-23 One Day Tournament last month, his opening partner Shivam Bhambri was the highest scorer for Chandigarh in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T-20 Trophy with a total of 260 runs, including a century against Himachal Pradesh. Shivam, whose father is a chartered accountant in Panchkula, had earlier played for Punjab U-23 team last year and had scored more than 300 runs in BCCI U-23 One Day Tournament. “I started playing cricket initially at Tau Devi Lal Stadium in Panchkula before I shifted base to Guru Nanak Public School, Chandigarh. Playing for Punjab U-23 team last year boosted my confidence a lot. When Chandigarh got BCCI affiliation this year, I decided to play for Chandigarh. I played a knock of 70 runs in Vijay Hazare Trophy before scoring 260 runs in Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy and it helped my confidence ahead of today’ s match. Both Mohammed and I were encouraging each other to go for our century and we are happy to be in record books for Chandigarh,” Shivam said.
Twenty-eight-year-old Nirmohi, who claimed five wickets for 26 runs in his spell of 11.2 overs, reminded the handful of fans of the early days of Kapil Dev. The pacer, who had played six matches for Himachal Pradesh in Ranji Trophy, has been training under coach Harish Sharma at the Sector 16 Stadium for the last 14 years. Nirmohi was the highest wicket-taker with 15 wickets for Chandigarh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy in October early this year and made the shift to play for Chandigarh this year. “While I played for Himachal Pradesh and made my Ranji Trophy debut in 2014-2015 season, I did not get many chances. I have been training at the Sector 16 Stadium for the last 14 years and to claim five wickets in my first Ranji Trophy match for Chandigarh at this very ground is a special moment. Last year I had met Kapil Dev sir during a training camp at Dharamshala and I wish that he sees me bowling at the stadium soon,” said Nirmohi, who has a twin sister.
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