The lanky Divij Mehra oozes innocence when he speaks. He is polite and speaks softly. The 20-year-old Delhi seamer kept his replies to queries from journalists short and to the point.
He may have taken five wickets and cleared the path for a probable victory against Mumbai, but he says he was just following the instructions of his coach and his captain, trying to fulfil the role given to him to disallow Mumbai’s batters from scoring freely in the second innings.
On day three, he demolished Mumbai’s top order, getting rid of Prithvi Shaw, Musheer Khan, Armaan Jaffer, Sarfaraz Khan, and No. 10 Mohit Avasthi. It was the second time in the match that Mehra got rid of Shaw – it seemed it was action replay, Shaw failing to safely negotiate a delivery coming in sharply after pitching.
“When bowling to Prithvi Shaw, the plan was to not give him width as he is known to cash in on any width outside the off-stump. That’s why I looked to bowl within the stumps. I was trying to get the ball to move in rather than move out. The idea was to give the batters fewer opportunities to hit boundaries,” Mehra stated plainly.
“I was just trying to bowl as full as I can because the wicket wasn’t doing much. I just discussed with my captain; everybody was standing two feet outside the crease, the ball was doing a little bit in the first session,” he said.
This is the second match of Mehra’s first-class career. He accepts that he wasn’t expecting to find a place in the line-up with the availability of experienced and accomplished seamers. With all the frontline fast bowlers injured, however, the space opened up for him. Mehra says he found the support of the entire team. They gave him advice on the areas to bowl in for each opposition batter.
For all his skills, however, Mehra doesn’t bowl at an express pace. He says he is looking to improve on that front.
“I hadn’t focused much on pace earlier. But a month since I started coming to Ranji Trophy camp, I started realising the need to improve the speeds at which I bowl. I saw the speeds at which my seniors – Delhi’s fast bowlers – were bowling and what was expected.”