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Mohammed Arslan hits Chandigarh’s first Ranji double ton

Khan thus joined a select group — which includes Gundappa Vishwanath, Amol Muzumdar, Anshuman Pandey, Manpreet Juneja, Jiwanjot Singh, Abhishek Gupta and Ajay Rohera.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh | Updated: December 11, 2019 8:11:26 am
Chandigarh’s Mohd Arslan plays a shot during his unbeaten 233 run knock against Arunachal on Day 2 of their Ranji Trophy match in Chandigarh. (Express photo by Kamleshwar Singh)

Mohammed Arslan Khan became the eighth Indian to score a double century on first-class debut on Tuesday with an unbeaten knock of 233 against Arunachal Pradesh at the Sector 16 Stadium.

Khan thus joined a select group — which includes Gundappa Vishwanath, Amol Muzumdar, Anshuman Pandey, Manpreet Juneja, Jiwanjot Singh, Abhishek Gupta and Ajay Rohera.

With Chandigarh declaring their first innings at 503 for two before removing six Arunachal Pradesh batsmen for 164 runs by the end of the second day’s play, the hosts still led by 192 runs. Khan could have broken Rohera’s record for the highest score on Ranji debut (267*) but the 20-year-old said such moments can wait.

“I could have scored a few more runs but what I got are also enough. My target was to play patiently till I reached 200 as the odd ball was turning and keeping low. Thoughts of going for 300 had come to my mind but with the rain in the forecast, the team needed time and such moments can wait,” shared Khan.

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The fact that the double ton came at a venue where he had watched an India-Australia ODI as a child in 2007, without a ticket, made it even more special. When Arslan told his elder brother Shahnawaz, captain of the Panjab University cricket team, about his interest in cricket, he was enrolled at a local academy, but it was a visit by Yuvraj Singh’s childhood coach Sukhwinder Bawa prompted the youngster to take the game more seriously.

Penchant for big scores

Bawa took Khan to Gurgaon and the coach also decided to get him into Himachal Pradesh junior teams with Chandigarh still having no affiliation with BCCI. Khan, who represented Chamba district till this year, had scored 211 against Bilaspur in the Himachal Pradesh Inter-District Trophy before joining Chandigarh. He played for the union territory’s U-23 team and amassed 699 runs, including five centuries and two half-centuries, in the BCCI U-23 one-day tournament in Bhubaneswar last month.

Resuming at 119 runs on Tuesday, Khan hit five boundaries and one six in the first hour to reach 150. Post drinks, he scored 82 runs off 54 balls hitting nine boundaries and three sixes.

“I started cricket watching my elder brother Shahnawaz play at the Panjab University grounds. When Bawa sir decided to take me to Gurgaon, my parents and brother were a bit worried but it was not. Sometimes, I would catch the bus straight to Himachal Pradesh to play U-16 and U-19 matches and would not even stop at Chandigarh. I was not part of the Chandigarh team for the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali tournaments, and I knew I had to earn my spot and the five centuries and two half-centuries in U-23 competition gave me the belief that I can make it to the Ranji team,” the 5’4” opener, whose father Zabih Ullah Khan runs a tailoring showroom in nearby Sector 17, said.

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Khan was 34 runs short of Rohera’s record when Chandigarh declared their first innings after 76 overs. Khan and skipper Manan Vohra had added 172 runs for the second wicket with the captain hitting 124 off 82 balls.

“We had the declaration in mind as we thought rain can come on Wednesday morning too. Records are okay but the team always come first and Khan will have his opportunities to score 300 in the future too. I had to wait for a long time for my turn to bat as Khan and Shivam Bhambri batted superbly. I was able to gain momentum quickly and batting is easy on this Sector 16 Stadium wicket once you are set. It’s good to get runs in Chandigarh colours,” said Vohra.

Brief scores: Arunachal Pradesh 147 and 164/6 in 45 overs (Rahul Dalal 75 batting, Gurinder Singh 3/42) vs Chandigarh 503/2 declared (Mohammed Arslan Khan 233 not out, Manan Vohra 124, Shivam Bhambri 124).

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