Pune: If one is asked to list the unsung heroes of Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy triumph, Siddhesh Lad’s name would be right there at the top.
Siddhesh Lad during his 89-run knock vs Uttar Pradesh at Wankhede in November last year. Pic/Atul kamble
The middle-order batsman has emerged as Mumbai’s crisis man this season. Batting at No 5 or No 6 in the tournament, the 23-year-old has put his hand up when it mattered the most for his team.
Mumbai had a slender 27-run lead after Day Two of the Ranji Trophy final.
Lad stands tall
However, Lad’s 88-run knock and a 103-run last wicket stand with Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr (34 not out) helped Mumbai take a comprehensive 136-run lead on Day Three of the Ranji Trophy final at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje here.
Lad, batting on 22 overnight, lost his partner Iqbal Abdulla (15) on the last ball of the day’s first over on Day Three on Friday. Lad too would have been sent packing had Cheteshwar Pujara taken the catch at slips when he was on 24, but he made the most of his second life and toyed with the Saurashtra bowlers. He drove with elegance, cut with grace and pulled with authority. He was constantly egged on by his teammates, ‘khelat raha’ (keep going) from the boundary line. Whenever he played a fine shot, his teammates would cheer in unison ‘shaabaash Lado’ (well played, Lad)’. “I derive more pleasure in scoring runs in pressure situations. I feel I have contributed to the team in a big way,” Lad told SUNDAY mid-day.
Such was his impact that Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah was forced to keep just one slip and push the rest of his fielders on the boundary line. Out of his five sixes, the one that was sliced over the covers off Saurashtra’s best bowler Jaydev Unadkat was a treat to watch. Lad has become accustomed to the rescue act.
In Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy opening match against Andhra (244) at Vizianagaram, he scored 86, coming in to bat when Mumbai were 61 for 4. Despite his gritty knock, Mumbai (237 all out) fell short by seven runs to take the first innings lead.
In Mumbai’s third league game, Lad showed his class and temperament with a 150-run first innings knock against Tamil Nadu at the Bandra Kurla Complex ground. His knock helped Mumbai (294) avoid the follow-on. Playing the sheet anchor role with Suryakumar Yadav (58) the other end, Mumbai triumphed by one wicket.
After suffering a rare failure (a pair in both innings) against Baroda, Lad bounced back against Uttar Pradesh, scoring 89 runs at the Wankhede Stadium. He was involved in two crucial partnerships (56 runs for the fifth wicket with Rohit Sharma and a 90-run sixth wicket stand with Abhishek Nayar).
Lad’s unbeaten 41 in the second innings against Railways helped Mumbai win by six wickets as Lad and Tare (71 not out) chased down 295 runs target with six overs to spare. His 60 helped Mumbai post a fighting 371 first innings total against Madhya Pradesh, who were bowled out for 227 as Mumbai progressed to the final on the basis of the first innings lead.
Number of runs scored by Siddhesh Lad in 11 matches this Ranji season at an average of 40.64