Hiken Shah's suspension by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has not only shocked Mumbai's cricketing fraternity, but has left them shaken as well.
Former Mumbai Ranji Trophy coach Sulakshan Kulkarni, under whose guidance Shah notched up some memorable knocks from 2011-12 to 2013-14 seasons, couldn't believe that the 30-year-old approached his Mumbai teammate Pravin Tambe to fix Indian Premier League-8 matches.
Mumbai’s Hiken Shah pads up during a training session at the Wankhede in January 2013. Pic/Atul Kamble
"This is shocking and unbelievable. Hiken is genuinely a good guy. I found him very simple, innocent and a gentleman cricketer… cool and calm. There is not a single point to talk anything negative about him. He is a sincere and hardworking cricketer. When you think of Hiken, you think of an intense and thinking cricketer. So, this is absolutely shocking to believe," Kulkarni told mid-day yesterday.
Shah's best first-class season under Kulkarni was in 2012-13 when Mumbai last lifted the Ranji Trophy — for the 40th time. He scored 773 runs in 10 Ranji matches which included three centuries in consecutive matches. Playing for Mumbai 'A', he scored an impressive 92 against England Lions XI at the DY Patil Stadium in the same season.
"He was one of the architects in Mumbai winning the Ranji Trophy in 2012-13. He played at No 3 for most of the season and was very consistent. He was a good fielder as well," noted Kulkarni.
However, a finger injury kept him away from action for most of the last season and was later not considered for selection again. Kulkarni touted Shah as future Mumbai captain. "He had all the qualities of a leader in him. He successfully leads Mumbai Customs (his employers) and Payyade Sports Club. He led a young Mumbai team to win the Bapuna tournament in Nagpur in 2012. In my report to the MCA, I mentioned that Hiken can be groomed for the captaincy," said Kulkarni.
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