It’s been close to eight years since that happened, and a lot has changed in that time. Jharkhand state team has seen the rise of player and leader Saurabh, who is now a stalwart for the team and perhaps the senior most player too. The southpaw batsman has played 82 first-class games for the team and scored 5,798 runs. But since then, on the flipside, he hasn’t shone with the bat in IPL which has marred his chances of coming in the national reckoning quite a bit. The last time Saurabh appeared in an IPL match was in 2017—his only appearance—where he scored 51 against Kolkata Knight Riders.
But having seen him from close quarters, his Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar still has faith in the strapping lad. For him Saurabh is a hardworking player, who if improves upon certain aspects, can still make the cut. Even though he has not got an opportunity to play in this year’s IPL, Rajiv feels that MI certainly has plans for him as MI battled out against Kings XI Punjab to bag him during the auctions.
Talking to Cricketnext, Rajiv said, “Saurabh is a very talented batsman. When he started out with Mumbai Indians, he churned out some great performances for them. The only thing was that he was lacking a bit in his fitness. When I used to see him play, it gave an impression that he is at least going to play 50 Tests for India. That’s how I rate him. But somehow things didn’t work out. Still there’s a lot left in him, and we can expect better things from Saurabh. What I gather is that he is putting in a lot of effort in his training with MI, and hopefully he can do well for them in the time to come. I’m sure his franchise has certain plans for him in the mind, and that would help him.
“Saurabh has been in great form. He had a good domestic season in all the formats and was hitting the ball well. I have a feeling that if given a chance, he will do really well. He has the ability to pull off something special. His numbers speak volumes. Apart from the batting ability, he has a mature head on his shoulders. He can handle the responsibility well, as he has been doing for Jharkhand for so long.”
His stature has been on an upward spiral in his state team, and that delights his coach. Apart from growing as a player, he has slowly started taking the responsibility of mentoring youngsters as well. Saurabh has ensured that young players thrive whenever they are batting with him.
“Saurabh has got a reputation that every time he goes out to bat, he will score runs for his side. Being the senior-most, he knows his role well and all the youngsters too look up to him. When he is batting with them, he gives them that freedom to express themselves. He just holds the fort from one end. That holds the team, and the youngsters in good stead and they can be ready for bigger challenges ahead. Despite being a senior and mentoring the players, he is still a keen learner. And that is one of the key reasons why he is performing so well domestically,” Rajiv added.
According to Rajiv, the presence of MS Dhoni during the Vijay Hazare Trophy bolstered Saurabh’s confidence and he managed to perform well once again for his team. For him, he must have certainly picked some positives from Dhoni’s game which might work for him in the future.
“MS Dhoni’s presence changes everything. He brings a different level of energy that’s infectious. Also he has great match awareness, so each and every player, senior or junior, gets to learn a lot from him. In pressure situations he knows how to keep calm, and keeps the team calm too. He just gets the best out of the team. So I’m sure that Saurabh too must have learnt a thing or two from him which could be beneficial for him in the future,” he concluded.
First Published: May 17, 2018, 8:19 AM IST