Rohan Prem: 'It’s great being part of this team'

The 31-year-old batsman, who has been instrumental in Kerala's stellar run this season, has watched the team change for the better.

Rohan Prem: “This is the best Kerala team I have been part of."   -  P.K. AJITH KUMAR

On a cool, overcast morning, as he stepped on to the Lalbhai Contractor Stadium, Rohan Prem’s mind went back a decade. A smile flashed on his bearded face, as he recalled the match he played on this ground.

He had scored his maiden First-Class hundred in that Ranji Trophy Plate league game against Gujarat, which Kerala had won. He was the baby in that team. Now he is the senior most member of the Kerala squad which is all set to play a historic quarter-final match against Vidarbha, starting on December 7.

Read: Ranji Trophy: The bowling spearheads

Tinu Yohannan, his teammate then, is now the bowling coach. “The ground has changed quite a bit,” Rohan told Sportstar, pointing at the stands. “They were not there then."

Much like the ground, the Kerala team has also changed for the better. “It is great being part of this team which is playing with so much positivity and confidence,” the 31-year-old said.

Read: Ranji Trophy: The batting stars

“This is the best Kerala team I have been part of.  We are all excited about playing in a Ranji Trophy quarterfinal for the first time in our lives."

He is glad that he has been one of the significant contributors to Kerala’s astonishing run in the league this season, which saw it win five of its six matches. Rohan had top-scored with 93 in Kerala’s only innings to set up the victory against Haryana at Lahli, which took the team to the knock-out stage. He had batted for 445 minutes and faced 314 balls to ensure that his team had enough runs on the board.

Read: Former captain urges Kerala to play fearless cricket in knockouts

“Somebody had to drop the anchor and stay on at the wicket as long as possible,” said Rohan, Kerala’s leading run-getter in First Class cricket with 4528 runs. “Looking at the context of the match, I would rate it as one of my best innings for Kerala. Yes, it was a bit disappointing to miss out on the hundred, but that doesn’t matter much because we won the game and qualified.”

Another knock he is fond of from this season is his 58 in the second innings against Jammu & Kashmir at Thiruvananthapuram. “Batting wasn’t easy at all on that turning track,” he said. “And it was a challenge facing off-spinner Parvez Rasool, who finished with 11 wickets.”

He has so far scored 383 runs from six matches, at an average of 38.3. The former India Under-19 player was also picked for the Board President’s XI against the touring Sri Lankans and had made 39. He hasn’t scored a hundred yet in the Ranji Trophy this season, despite having three fifties under his belt.

And the southpaw certainly won’t mind getting one at the venue where he made the first of his 12 First-Class hundreds ten years ago, on a cool December day like this.