Rohan Kunnummal had dropped Umang Kumar at slip when Kerala was desperately looking for a breakthrough on the final morning of the Ranji Trophy match against Gujarat at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium on Sunday. He was gutted. The debutant batter went on to score another 36 runs and his partnership with Karan Patel yielded another 62.
Rohan, however, got an opportunity to make amends. And he did – in stunning fashion. His unbeaten 106 not off just 87 balls took Kerala to one of its finest ever wins, as it chased down a target of 214 scoring at six-an-over. And he is the first batter from Kerala to score three consecutive hundreds in first-class cricket.
The day after, the 23-year-old admits life seems like a dream for him at the moment. “It is a great feeling, yes,” he tells Sportstar. “It is nice that I could score three hundreds in a row, but what made me really happy was that I could help my team win.”
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He confesses he was feeling terrible after dropping Umang. “After that I just hoped that I would be able to win the match for my team,” he says.
This was only Rohan’s third Ranji match, after making his debut in the 2019-20 season. “I was injured in that match and then Covid happened,” he says. “But I was hopeful that I could be picked for the Ranji Trophy as I had done well in both the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy tournaments.”
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After being initiated into the sport by his father Sushil, a University player, Rohan honed his skills at the Sussex Cricket Academy in Kozhikode (his home is in the neighbouring town of Koyilandy). He made a sudden impact in age group cricket. He had made headlines when he hit 253 not out against Delhi at the Cooch Behar Trophy in 2016-17.
That season he was named initially in the India Under-19 team but was omitted as the BCCI decided only those eligible for 2018 Under-19 World Cup would be picked.
There was no doubt about his talent. And he is one of those batters who could impress you straight away: he is a delightful strokemaker with great timing and a sense of placement. Chandrakant Pandit had once told this correspondent that Rohan was the most promising batter he found during his coaching stint in Kerala.
He is turning promise into performance.