When Aditya Garhwal is not playing cricket or pursuing his Bachelor of Commerce degree, he turns to reading mushy romance. “I like to read love stories, both in Hindi and English,” he says. Garhwal, 18, has been having a love affair of his own. But not the Mills & Boon type.
Over the course of the Vinoo Mankad Under-19 (Central Zone) tournament, Garhwal has rekindled his passion for making runs after the heartbreak of the previous season when he failed with just 60-odd runs in five innings. The full-blooded romance has seen him score 763 runs in five one-day games, including two double hundreds and a 196. On Saturday at the Mohan Nagar ground in Ghaziabad, Garhwal put together a chanceless 212 off just 132 deliveries against Vidarbha, an innings that comprised 21 fours and nine sixes, nine short of the record 18 he hit against Railways.
His scores so far reads 32 vs Uttar Pradesh, 263 vs Railways, 196 vs Madhya Pradesh, 60 vs Chattisgarh and now 212. If someone wants to compare — forget the stature of the players and the level of competition — then what two greats Sachin and Sehwag did 22 months apart of each other, Garhwal has achieved in a week.
Those watching Garhwal bat on Saturday at the Mohan Nagar ground did not have an inkling of the kind of knock the Rajasthan batsman from Sikar would play.
Garhwal took 50 balls to score his half-century and at that stage had found the boundary on seven occasions. The journey from 50 to 100 took just 36 more deliveries and 30 off these runs came in boundaries, including three sixes. Once he reached the three-figure mark, Garhwal stepped on the gas. The 150 came in just 105 deliveries and 200 followed 22 balls later.
For someone who wondered where his next run would come from at the end the 2013-14 season, Garhwal has made tremendous progress.
“Last year after I failed to make runs, I told my parents that I would rather quit cricket and focus on academics. My father is an engineer and my mother is a professor of chemistry. They told me that I should not get disheartened by failure but rather remain positive and work harder on my cricket. My coach Anshu Jain encouraged me and guided me,” Garhwal said.
One step at a time
At the start of the season, Garhwal who believes he is fitter and stronger now — 500 of his runs came in boundaries in the Central Zone tournament — decided that he would take it one step at a time.
“I decided that my first target at the start of each innings would be to reach a half-century and the next step would be a century. That is how I played even on Saturday. Till I reached my hundred I cut out all shots that I considered risky and tried to play in the ‘V’ as much as possible,” Garhwal explained.
The youngster is fully aware that his feats in the Vinoo Mankad tournament means he will be judged by his success. “I know that I can be a victim of the high standards I have set. But I have a long way to go. There is a huge difference between age-group cricket and first-class cricket. I am not getting carried away by the number of runs I have scored in this tournament. I am just happy that I have been able to repay the faith my parents and coach have placed in me.”