Basant Mohanty revels in moment of glory

On Wednesday, in the Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai, Mohanty picked his 300th first-class wicket, becoming only the second Odisha bowler to cross the milestone; the other being his mentor Debasish Mohanty.

Basant Mohanty attributes much of his success to Debasish Mohanty and Shiv Sundar Das, the Odisha duo who have featured in international cricket before taking on coaching responsibilities of the State team.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

 

He is not a fast bowler that he says he once was. He has never featured in the lucrative Indian Premier League neither has he been in reckoning for an India call-up despite grinding in the domestic circuit for over a decade. No wonder Basant Mohanty, the spearhead of Odisha's pace attack, is one of the unsung heroes of domestic cricket.

On Wednesday, however, the pacer took the centre stage on the first morning of Odisha's Ranji Trophy Group C tie against Mumbai. In the sixth over of the game, Mohanty, bowling around the wicket, got one to jag back in and crash into Mumbai opener Akhil Herwadkar’s off-stump, who erroneously left the ball alone.

The wicket was Mohanty's 300th in first-class cricket, making him only the second Odisha bowler to cross the milestone; the other being his mentor Debasish Mohanty, who finished his career with 417 wickets. “I am the second one to achieve this after Debu da (Debasis Mohanty). It will be a memorable achievement if the team takes the lead. If I take two, three, or five wickets and am able to contribute to the team, I will feel good,” said the 31-year-old.

The tall bowler recounts his other milestone wickets. “I will remember this since it came against Mumbai. My 100th was Mandeep Singh, the 200th was Jayant Yadav, the 300th is Herwadkar. I wanted it to happen in Bhubaneswar, it is my home. I am very happy it happened here,” he said.

The smiling assassin doesn't use clichés. In fact, he attributes much of his success to Debasish Mohanty and Shiv Sundar Das, the Odisha duo who have featured in international cricket before taking on coaching responsibilities of the State team.

“When I made by debut, I had no idea what Ranji Trophy was, the India team was. I would just bowl. Debu da (Mohanty) and (Shiv Sundar) Das bhai used to be with me at mid-on and mid-off. They would say ‘You just bowl without worry, the result does not matter’. I would not even see the pitch before. Now I am a senior player and the team depends on me. I have to give early breakthroughs for the team,” he said.

“They say when I have taken five wickets, Odisha have won. So there is pressure, as well as enjoyment. Earlier, Debu da would take the pressure. My first 200 wickets were because of him. He used to bowl very tight, and batsmen would go after me. Now it is the reverse. If a youngster is able to strike with my help, I will be happy.”