This is as ironic as it can get. On a day when he silenced his ever-increasing band of critics to some extent with a majestic 200 not out for Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy, Rohit Sharma was demoted to Grade C in the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) central contracts list.
The 23-year-old’s knock helped Mumbai pile up a mammoth 621/8 during a Super League Group A match against hosts Bengal at the Eden Gardens on Thursday.
At stumps on Day Two, Bengal were 28 for one. Arindam Das edged one to wicketkeeper off Avishkar Salvi’s bowling to cap off a splendid day for the visitors.
Sharma, who made amends for missing out on a century (93) in Mumbai’s opening encounter against Saurashtra last week, smacked 23 boundaries and three sixes against a hapless Bengal attack. He batted for six hours and 23 minutes.
“There was disappointment after I missed out (on a century) against Saurashtra. I was focussed on getting a big one and I did it today (Thursday). I knew I needed to step up and get some big runs,” Sharma told DNA.
When asked if he was aware of his demotion in the contracts list, Sharma was quick to reply, “Yeah, yeah, I’m aware of that. Ups and downs are a part of life. I don’t have to feel disappointed. As long as I score runs for Mumbai, India or whichever team, things will be good,” he said.
So will it be a challenge to fight it out and work his way up to Grade B, perhaps, even Grade A? “My only challenge is to score runs,” he said.
Sharma, though, was lucky as he was dropped thrice. After debutant Writam Porel dropped him on Wednesday (off Ashok Dinda’s bowling), Sharma was dropped twice on Thursday off Ranadeb Bose.
The hosts’s fielding has been atrocious this season and they have already dropped seven catches in two matches. Sharma, on his part, said he was dropped just once “somewhere in the 120s or 130s”.
While Abhishek Nayar (19) and Ajit Agarkar (4) were quickly dismissed within the first seven overs with the scoreboard reading 313/6, it was Iqbal Abdulla (81, 95 balls, 12x4) who stepped up the tempo with some lusty hitting.
Abdulla and Sharma added 144 runs for the seventh wicket and scored 163 runs in the first session on Thursday. After Abdulla was dismissed by Sourashis Lahiri, Ramesh Powar smashed a quickfire 38 off 34 balls to take the score past 500 before Shib Sagar dismissed him.
However, Sharma found an able ally in Dhawal Kulkarni (37 not out) as they together put on 115 runs for the ninth wicket to take the score past 600.
Mumbai 1st innings (O/N: 287/4)
R Sharma 200 n.o., A Nayar c Arindam Das b Bose 19, A Agarkar c Saha b Dinda 4, I Abdulla b Lahiri 81, R Powar c Tiwary b Singh 38, D Kulkarni 37 n.o.
Extras: (B1, LB4, W3, NB2) 10; Total: (8 wickets, 163 overs) 621 decl (3.80 runs per over); FoW: 1-21, 2-84, 3-236, 4-237, 5-304, 6-313, 7-457, 8-506
Bowling: R Bose 26-6-81-1 (1nb, 1w), A Dinda 33-3-130-1, LR Shukla 25-4-77-0, S Singh 35-5-132-1 (1nb, 2w), S Lahiri 29-1-128-2, M Tiwary 15-0-68-2
Bengal 1st innings
Arindam Das c Gurav b Salvi 8, S Goswami 64 n.o., R Banerjee 2 n.o.
Extras: (B1, NB2) 3 ; Total: (1 wicket; 15 overs) 28 (1.86 runs per over); FoW: 1-23
Bowling: A Agarkar 5-1-8-0, D Kulkarni 5-2-14-0 (1nb), A Salvi 3-2-2-1, R Powar 2-0-3-0