Rajasthan takes the ‘Mahi’ way

Playing with only home-grown talent, captain Mahipal Lomror hopes to create history by guiding his team to its third Ranji Trophy title.

Mahipal Lomror says he is very proud that his players are doing a great job and that Rajasthan has reached the knockouts after eight years.

Mahipal Lomror was just 12 when Rajasthan won the Ranji Trophy for the last time in 2012. Seven seasons later, the youngster from Nagaur has led the side from the front and has ensured that Team Rajasthan qualifies for the quarterfinals of the domestic tournament.

For the last five years, Rajasthan cricket had literally come to a standstill because of in-fighting in the association, but that hasn’t affected the players. As the side travels to Bengaluru to take on Karnataka in their last-eight fixture, Mahipal – who is fondly known as Mahi – has dreams in his eyes.

Playing with only home-grown talent, Rajasthan’s Mahi hopes to create history by guiding the team to its third Ranji Trophy title.

He spoke to Sportstar on the road ahead.

How do you rate the season so far?

The season has been good so far. This is one of the most successful seasons Rajasthan has ever had. I don’t how to explain this, but it is a great feeling to come so far despite the challenges and problems in Rajasthan cricket. I am very proud that the guys are doing a great job and we have reached the knockouts after eight years.

Your bowlers have fared well in the tournament, and after early jitters, even the batsmen have flourished in the later stage. What’s your take on the balance of the side?

The combination of the team is very good. Whenever it is required, the players are stepping up, be it a batsman or a bowler. It has not been just about the bowlers, we have won two matches despite conceding a first-innings lead and the credit must go to the batsmen. We have at least three or four batsmen who are seasoned, so that is a boost. As a team, we are playing well and everyone is putting in equal effort. That’s a very satisfying thing for a captain.

You are leading the side at the age of 19. And there are quite a few senior players in the ranks, so how have they helped you?

Captaincy is not new to me. I have led the Rajasthan under-16 and under-19 teams. I agree leading a Ranji Trophy team is a different ball game, but the seniors have been very supportive. I have interacted with them even when I was playing at the junior level, so they all knew me and that was a boost. They are very supportive and always guide me on how to come out of a crunch situation. There is nothing called a junior or a senior in the team; they are always there to help me out.

Karnataka is a tough opponent. How cautious is the team?

We are focusing on the process. This is cricket; here everything is possible. Even after one bad session, we can bounce back. The game will go on for five days, so someday we will have the upper hand, and someday they will reign, so that’s part of the game. Karnataka is a very good side, but our focus is to execute the plans and not think too much about the quarterfinal.

What’s your target at the moment?

Our USP is teamwork. In every match, all of us are giving our best efforts and all the members are hungry for more. We want to march ahead and that’s the only thing in mind.

Hrishikesh Kanitkar led Rajasthan to back-to-back Ranji Trophy title wins in 2010-11 and 2011-12. Do you think your team is as powerful as those winning teams?

Look, at that time, we had three professional players, but here we are all home-grown talents and we have a perfect mix of youth and experience. The combination is amazing. The average age of the team would be around 22 or 23. We also have players who have played nearly 100 first-class matches, so that is a fine blend. This combination looks better than that side.