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Vijay Hazare: Himachal star Arora eyes IPL auction after final heroics

The 24-year-old Arora carved an unbeaten 136 with 13 boundaries and a solitary strike over the ropes. He recalls the dressing room talk before he went out to bat in Jaipur.

Written by Devendra Pandey | Mumbai |
Updated: December 27, 2021 8:25:19 am
Shubham Arora (Express Photo)

Shubham Arora waited for this day all his life. So did his Himachal Pradesh team.

Scoring big runs on a big stage has always been the goal but neither his side nor he ever managed to reach the final of a major event. That’s why December 26 will go down as a day to remember for both Arora and Himachal Pradesh cricket.

The team, which has always been considered a minnow on the domestic circuit clinched their first ever major domestic title – the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Sunday. They had to chase Tamil Nadu’s 315-run target. But while on 299 for 4, after 47.3 overs, bad light was announced and Himachal was declared the winner.

Central to Himachal’s success though was the role the Delhi-boy, born in Unnao, Himachal played for his team on Sunday. The 24-year-old Arora carved an unbeaten 136 with 13 boundaries and a solitary strike over the ropes. He recalls the dressing room talk before he went out to bat in Jaipur.

“We were told that we need to keep wickets in hand and try to play out the entire 50 overs,” he says to The Indian Express.

“My duty was to try and not get out especially during the play-off. A good start is always needed while chasing a big score.

Those who have been following domestic cricket would have certainly predicted another title for Tamil Nadu – the clear favourite before the clash. But back in the Himachal dugout, the team – that has long been accustomed to punching above its weight – felt there was a good chance to create history.

As per Arora, the surface was a good batting track, so it was just a matter of execution.

No longer underdogs

As the runs came for Himachal – a team playing without any stress, as if they had nothing to lose – the pressure kept mounting on Tamil Nadu.

“All these years I always wanted to play an innings like this on a big stage. Thankfully it came today and we won. Winning a title is always a special feeling and it took some time for the feeling to sink. To understand what we had just achieved,” Arora explains.

The win also means Himachal will shed the underdog tag hereon. No longer will the bigger metro city teams look at them as the small-town boys. Arora too agreed that the win will change the perception Himachal had among their rivals.

“This win will now help us to get rid of the minnows tag. No team will take us lightly now. There has been a lot of hard work that has gone into this. There was a long process that was followed. And this is a result of all that hard work. We did this as a team,” the opener adds.

Gully to the stadium

Playing gully cricket on the streets of Delhi’s Patel Nagar, neighbours spotted his talent and advised his father to push him onto the path that may lead to a successful cricketing career. He took his first steps toward that goal in Delhi, before later heading to the state of his birth to achieve that target.

“I used to play in a small lane when my neighbour told my father that I bat well so they should try and send me to train in the nets. My parents did that. Then I tried to make the Delhi team but wasn’t selected,” says the self-proclaimed David Miller fan.

“Since I was born in Himachal, I tried out for their state team and have been playing for them since my junior cricket days. Later I made their senior side.”

Now with the runs coming in, the wicketkeeper batsman hopes he might have caught the eye of an IPL scout. With the auctions happening in February, the youngster doesn’t rule out the fact that he’s hopeful of making it to an IPL team.

“If an IPL contract happens it will be good. I hope this knock makes a difference. At the moment at least for now, we are happy to have created our own history,” he says.

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