679 runs in three matches.
An astonishing average of 169.75.
To say, Milind Kumar has had a dream start to the Ranji season wouldn’t be too far from the truth.
During the course of his third consecutive triple figure score, against Uttarakhand in Bhubaneswar, there was a chance that the 27-year old would become the first man in history to score three consecutive First-Class double hundreds. However, records and numbers don’t dominate Milind’s thought process.
It has been a tumultuous year - Milind lost his mother and the Delhi selectors overlooked him. So, just being on the field and doing what he loves – batting – is a source of immense satisfaction.
“I was initially on stand-by for the Delhi ODI team for the first three matches,” Milind tells CricketNext. “Selectors told me I wasn’t batting well in the nets and wasn’t concentrating well enough, they told me they wanted to try out other players. I kept on waiting but the opportunity never arrived, then the call came from Sikkim about the team wanting professional players. I had a word with them and said yes.”
The move to Sikkim was a bold one, considering cricket is only taking baby steps there after the Lodha reforms mandated the inclusion of North-East states in domestic competitions. Milind admits to being initially shocked when he first came upon the practice facilities and grounds. He is also aware of the cynicism surrounding his run-scoring feats, considering Sikkim plays in the plate group where most teams have ordinary bowling attacks.
“All the teams have professional players, even if these bowling attacks aren’t the best but still it isn’t easy to score runs after coming in to bat at 15/5 (Milind scored 261 against Manipur after coming in to bat with his side at 15/5). You still require immense skills to pull your team out of such situations,” he says.
Milind broke onto the domestic scene five years ago, scoring an unbeaten 78 against a touring England side as Delhi chased down 295 to register victory. Shikhar Dhawan scored 110 in the same game. Young Milind’s composure and ability to handle quality pace bowling left observers impressed.
Now, his focus is squarely on just piling on the runs. He isn’t targeting goals such as breaking into the India A side or an IPL contract and neither is he thinking of a return to Delhi on the basis of the strong showing for Sikkim. As a senior professional in a young, fledgling set-up, he is relishing the responsibility of mentoring and guiding his fellow players.
“I just want to keep playing and scoring runs, I am not thinking about IPL or any other teams,” he insists. “As far as going back to Delhi is concerned, I don’t know. Right now, I am playing for Sikkim and I am enjoying that.
“I am enjoying the role of a senior player in the team, there are some good players in the side but the only difference is match temperament. Most of the players haven’t played 4-day or 5-day cricket but they will only get better with more match experience.”
First Published: November 28, 2018, 9:27 AM IST