Shivam Mavi hails from Mavana, a mofussil town situated in western Uttar Pradesh that’s dotted with sugar mills. The only aspect that remotely connects it to cricket is its proximity to Meerut, which has in recent times hogged considerable print space in the sports pages of newspapers due to the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Praveen Kumar.
Both hail from Meerut’s Victoria Park, the nursery for young and upcoming pacers. But Shivam has honed his craft at Noida’s Wanderers Academy, and unlike his illustrious seniors, he doesn’t merely rely only on swing. Pace is Mavi’s foremost ally, and he uses it to hustle batsmen. Upon his return to Victoria Park for Uttar Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy season-opener against Railways, there were clear signs of how quickly he has grown in stature to become the team’s frontline bowler.
Mavi finished with a match-haul of 6/83. But his stiff back prevented him from bowling more than eight overs in the second innings. Consequently, Railways rode on the home team’s misfortune. Newbie Dinesh Mor struck a career-initiating century that propelled the visitors to a 348-run lead. It looked like a match-winning effort, but little play was possible on the final day due to fog and cloud cover. Overall, just 16.2 overs were bowled by Railways on Thursday, and even though they picked up two wickets — that of openers Almas Shaukat (33) and Aryan Jurel (13) — it was a seemingly open and shut case. Uttar Pradesh finished at 62/2 when umpires called off play. By virtue of this stalemate, Railways walked away with three points, while the home team earned a solitary point.
While lauding the efforts of Railways debutant wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Mor for his exploits with the bat, Uttar Pradesh’s newly-appointed captain Ankit Rajpoot insisted the match highlighted some of their glaring inadequacies in batting, which he hoped would get fixed in the subsequent matches. He also asserted that Mavi had recovered from the niggle. “Mavi is fine. He had suffered stiff back yesterday, which was why he didn’t make it to the field.”
In the first innings, the pacer bowled at furious pace, instilling dread and getting the Railways batsmen to hop around on the pitch. Infact, his barrage of bouncers had left bruises on Mor’s stomach, and a deep gash on his right eyebrow.
Figures of 2/64 from 20 overs don’t quite tell you the way the batsmen were harassed. It was in the second essay that he looked like derailing the Railways. Once again, he never sacrificed on his pace.
If anything, he was a tad fuller and more accurate. This was instrumental in him getting four cheap wickets for just 19 runs in eight overs. Two bowled and two caught behinds were indicative of his decisiveness. When Mavi was around, Uttar Pradesh looked potent. Without him, they looked directionless. Rajpoot looked a forlorn figure without his trusted lieutenant.
After featuring in Uttar Pradesh-Saurashtra Ranji Trophy quarter-final game in Lucknow in January, he has spent considerable time on the sidelines with a back injury. Consequently, Mavi would be seen more at Bangalore’s National Cricket Academy, undergoing his rehab, than on the cricket field. Missing out on the showpiece IPL would probably be the biggest disappointment of the year.
BRIEF SCORES: At Meerut: Railways 253 and 270 versus Uttar Pradesh 175 and 62/2 (Almas Shaukat 33, Aryan Juyal 13; T Pradeep 1-15).
Points: Railways: 3 points, UP 1
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