TILL last week, left-arm spinner Aditya Dhumal was no where in the reckoning to make it to the Mumbai Ranji squad. The team’s senior spinner Iqbal Abdulla had already made the switch to Kerala at the start of the season but there were others waiting in the wings.
This left the other two incumbents — Vishal Dabholkar and Harmeet Singh — who had represented India at the U-19 level to fight for the lone spot available. Dhumal, on his part, was waging a battle of his own against fitness.
“Thoda mota tha,” he concedes. With his name not even cropping up for discussion at the start of the season, a young Dhumal decided to wait and display his wares at the U-23 level. In a must-win game against Vidharbha at the Wankhede Stadium, the spinner wrecked havoc by snapping five scalps. Sadly, his exploits were not enough for the Mumbai colts to register a win.
His inability to seal the deal against Vidharbha meant he would have to wait even more before making his much awaited leap into the big league. Or so it seemed. An injury to Mumbai’s left-arm spinner Vijay Gohill before Mumbai’s Ranji game against Uttar Pradesh at Mysuru, meant the Ranji champions needed an immediate replacement. As luck would have it, the selectors zeroed in on a young Dhumal.
And, he didn’t disappoint.
On his first-class debut, he finished with figures of 5/53 and, along with Dabholkar, helped Mumbai pull off a resounding 121-run win against Uttar Pradesh. For Dhumal, taking to left-arm-spin was a well-thoughtout plan. Or so he thought.
Dhumal, seeing the dearth of left arm spinners at the age-group level, decided to take it up as he believed it would naturally give him get an entry into the senior team.
“I felt if I pick left arm spin then my chances to make the playing XI would improve. There were hardly left-arm spinner around me, however, as I grew up, I was proved wrong,” he explains.
“It was very tough to find a place because there are three left-arm spinners fighting for a place in Mumbai Ranji team. Sometimes I felt that my childhood assumption was wrong that left arm spinner will walk in the team so easily. I had wait. I knew that bowling se kuch nahi hoga, so I even began to bat for the U-19 and club teams. However, I’m happy that the day has finally come,” the 22-year-old says.
Not surprisingly, Dhumal’s patience paid off. The start has been bright, but he will know that the road ahead is arduous.
Brief scores: Mumbai 233 & 286 beat Uttar Pradesh 225 & 173 (Shivam Chaudhary 50; Aditya Dhumal 5/53, Vishal Dabholkar 4/43)by 121 runs. Points: Mumbai 6, Uttar Pradesh 0