Shivam Mavi has endured a tough haul away from competitive action after the month of his T20I debut for India in January.
On Saturday, exactly five months after his sixth international cap against New Zealand, Mavi led Central Zone to a commanding win over East Zone in his maiden assignment as a First Class captain in the Duleep Trophy in Bengaluru.
In the lull in between, the 24-year-old seamer warmed the bench for Gujarat Titans in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023 season, despite being a high-profile signing for the 2022 champion. Mavi was roped in by GT for Rs 6 crore in the IPL 2023 auction but he failed to break into a star-studded XI across 17 matches.
“Two-and-a-half months without a game is difficult for any player. The team combination had to do with that, and when I was supposed to play a game, I suffered a small niggle that put me out. That happens in a sportsperson’s life, but I was able to keep my preparations to the fullest,” Mavi said after Central trumped East by 170 runs to reach the Duleep Trophy semifinal.
“After my last match for India on February 1, it’s just been tough to get a game. I hadn’t played any match since then, and it was quite hot in North India, with temperatures touching the mid-40s. After a point, I could only practise and not play matches there. It was better to bowl in the nets in the evenings, seven-eight overs, to manage the workload. But obviously, a match is an entirely different scenario, and I felt it when I was bowling in the first innings here. I was struggling a bit and once when I came into my rhythm, I did well,” he added.
Mavi relished his captaincy debut in a match where his bowlers dominated the game. Left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar wreaked havoc in the last innings with a career-best 8/64 as East suffered a 170-run defeat in a 300-run chase.
“I have led at the junior level, but this was the first time leading a team full-time in senior cricket. The team did a decent job across departments. The bowlers were in form, especially Saurabh. He can just hold one end tight for long spells. We got the job done with just four bowlers in both innings,” he remarked.
Playing his first red-ball game since a Ranji Trophy outing for UP in January, Mavi picked up three wickets as he settled back into the groove in the presence of national selectors Shiv Sundar Das and Sridharan Sharath. “The selectors spoke to me yesterday. They asked me to keep the ball on the good areas and work on it. I mentioned that I was playing a game after a long time (laughs),” Mavi said.
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