“Rahul, wo hi jo TV pe aata hai?” Mahipal Lomror’s mother reacted when he told them that the former India captain was now their coach. It was only then that the Nagaur lad’s parents were convinced that their son’s cricketing career was on the right track.
“When I started playing as a kid, my parents never stopped me. There was no pressure, that what will happen to studies. They said if you want to play, play, but then give your all. Don’t do time pass,” says Mahipal. “Then when Rahul sir became our coach, everyone was happy. It was then that they realised I was not just passing time.”
On Friday, the all-rounder who bowls left-arm spin and bats in the lower middle order gave further proof to his parents when he made 45 and took five wickets in India’s 120-run win over New Zealand.
He came in at a time when India were in spot of bother, having lost five wickets for 165 in the 37th over. He added 55 runs with Armaan Jaffer at more than run a ball, before batting with the tail to take the score past 250. A stocky, aggressive left-handed batsman, he has penchant for hitting big shots. But that’s not his sole strength.
‘Need to be clever’
“You can’t just keep doing power-hitting. You need to be clever. The ground here is big, there are so many single and double opportunities. Then if you can sneak in one odd four or a six, it’s good,” he says.
It was with his bowling, though, that Mahipal left a bigger mark. After the pacer Avesh Khan had blown away the top order, Mahipal feasted upon the shell-shocked Kiwi batsmen. However, he insists there is plenty of room for improvement in his bowling. And he had had a long session in the nets on Sunday.
“My assessment is that we didn’t bowl even 30 per cent of our ability and calibre. So that was what we were trying to address. We were working on our lengths. They were either too short or too full in the last match. So we were focusing on getting the right lengths,” he said.
As a batsman, Mahipal is an admirer of Adam Gilchrist, in bowling is role model is Ravindra Jadeja. “Gilchrist is a big match player. You can see his record. Whenever there was a big occasion, he would perform. In bowling, I like Jadeja’s accuracy.”
However, the epithet that he has got is that of Junior Chris Gayle.
“Chandrakant Pandit sir said it when he had come to Rajasthan in 2011 as RCA’s director. At that time we had gone to play the Under-14 Varroc Shield in Mumbai. There I scored 250 in the final. It was then that he said, jokingly, that I was junior Chris Gayle. After that, sab log chaloo ho gaye,” he says.
Like Gayle, people back in his hometown want to see him playing in the IPL. “When I go to my village, people ask IPL kab kheloge. ‘TV pe kab aaoge’?”
He is one of the 341 guys who will undergo the hammer during the 2016 IPL auction on February 6. And, by the way, he is already on TV. You can catch him here: India vs. Nepal – Live on Star Sports 1: 8:30 am onwards.