Apart from training hard in the nets and indulging in match simulation during the five-day practice sessions, Mumbai opener Akhil Herwadkar did something more to help him switch swiftly to the five-day format after a two-month gap. The southpaw, who scored his third century of the season yesterday, watched videos of his eight Ranji league matches to get back into playing patiently and put a price on his wicket.
Herwadkar batted for 287 minutes for his 107 off 217 balls, laced with 12 boundaries as Mumbai finished Day One of their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Jharkhand at Mysore yesterday with 303 for six. Skipper Abhishek Nayar is batting on 25 with wicketkeeper Sufiyan Shaikh yet to open his account.
Herwadkar maintained his poise despite losing his opening partner Jay Bista (9) early on. He stitched a 70-run second wicket partnership with in-form Shreyas Iyer (45) and was then involved in a 136-run third wicket stand with Suryakumar Yadav (75 off 70 balls) that helped Mumbai end the opening day on a sound note.
"A century in a knockout match is always very special. It was a task adapting to the five-day format after playing limited overs cricket for the last couple of months. I watched videos of my batting in the league phase and that helped me a lot," Herwadkar told mid-day yesterday.
Coach Chandrakant Pandit also showed the team a short video of their journey to the Ranji quarter-finals on match eve. "It was short film with footage of our highs and lows in the league stage. It was just another way to motivate the boys and drive home the point that we cannot afford to relax and the time has come to step up our game," said Pandit.
The coach rued yesterday's mini collapse as Mumbai lost three wickets for 76 to slump from 227-3 to 303-6. However, Pandit was delighted with Herwadkar's approach. "He played some classical drives off the front foot, but what I liked most was the way he left balls. He also cut down on his shots square off the wicket which has generally resulted in his dismissal," said Pandit.
Herwadkar had also scored a century in the last Ranji season's quarter-final against Delhi at Cuttack to help Mumbai progress to the semi-finals. Does he hope for an encore this time? "The goal is always to move forward and help the team win the title. I want to contribute in whichever way possible," Herwadkar signed off.
Mumbai 303-6 (A Herwadkar 107, S Yadav 75, S Iyer 45; Jaskaran Singh 2-57, S Nadeem 2-96) vs Jharkhand