When Prasad Pawar made it to the final eleven for Mumbai in its crucial Ranji Trophy Elite Group B fixture against Maharashtra, he did not know that he would have to bat at No.3.
In the last two games that he featured in, Pawar had batted at No.6. But on Wednesday, Pawar was informed by Mumbai coach Amol Muzumdar he will have to bat at No.3 as Armaan Jaffer suffered a minor injury.
While it was a new challenge for Pawar, he grabbed the opportunity and ended up scoring 145, helping Mumbai to level Maharashtra’s first innings total of 384. Though he missed out on a 150 by just five runs, Pawar was happy to step up and deliver at a time when wickets tumbled at the other end.
“When Armaan got injured, (Amol) sir told me, “You are in at three.” I took it in a positive way, I thought this is an opportunity, otherwise I would have batted at No.6. But I took it as a positive that this would give me a good opportunity to score. This is just my third match but I thought that I would take it in a positive way and the wicket was also very good for batting,” Pawar said on Thursday.
“I thought I will take my time initially and play one ball at a time. Though wickets kept falling, my plan was to play each ball and not think about the wickets or that I have to score 380. And that worked for me,” he said.
The stumper-batter, who plays for Payyade Sports Club, usually bats at No.3 in local league matches and that experience helped him deal with the pressure.
“This was my maiden first-class 100. It was an incredible feeling. It would have been a cherry on the top had we scored one more run, and taken the lead in the first innings. Personally, for me, it was a good innings because initially I took some time and then there was a phase in the middle, where I had to take some time again,” he said. “Wickets were falling, so it was my responsibility to get the team through. But it was a good innings in all…”
With the top-order failing early, Pawar kept telling himself ‘over and over again’ that he needs to play one ball at a time. “I didn’t think about playing a long innings or a particular number of balls. The idea was just to play every ball according to its merit…”
He ended the second day, unbeaten on 99, and by his admission, he could not sleep well under pressure. “Honestly speaking, I didn’t get much sleep. Yesterday I didn’t know I was playing at 99. I only found out when I went into the pavilion. I was in that zone that if I kept playing like I was, I knew I would score a century…”
Hailing from Kandivali, in the western suburbs of Mumbai, Pawar started playing cricket under the watchful eyes of Hitendra Jadhav at Poinsur Gymkhana, and then moved to Swami Vivekanand International School - the alma mater of Rohit Sharma and Shardul Thakur. “At the school, Dinesh Lad sir was my coach. I also play for the Payyade Club, where Gaitonde sir guided me. So I have many coaches. Generally I bat at three or four for club level, but the opportunity I got now, I thought it was a golden chance to make it big and I played accordingly…”