Harvik Desai heeds Pujara's advice to take Saurashtra to last-four

Harvik Desai made his maiden first-class century in Saurashtra's second innings, helping it chase down 372 against Uttar Pradesh.

Saurashtra openers, Harvik Desai (in pic) and Snell Patel (72), stitched a 132-run opening stand that set the tone in the second innings.   -  FACEBOOK/HARVIK DESAI

Time leke khel…”

These were the three words Cheteshwar Pujara had told Harvik Desai when he got down to bat for Saurashtra in the second innings of the Ranji Trophy final.

For the young opener playing his first season of Ranji Trophy, it was a herculean task to chase down a massive total of 372. But thanks to Cheteshwar ‘bhai’s advice, Desai kept his cool and scored his maiden first-class century and also guided the team to the semifinals.

“Cheteshwar bhai told me that I should take my time to settle down and then go for the attack. We were chasing a big total and it was important to play carefully,” Desai tells Sportstar.

Around this time, last year, Desai was part of India’s U-19 team, which went on to clinch the World Cup. And most importantly, it was his slash over backward point boundary, which helped the team bag the title at the Bay Oval in New Zealand.

But for him, the innings of 116 on Saturday, is special.

“It is a great feeling to score the first century in the Ranji Trophy. As a team, the combination has been good, and I was getting runs but a century is always special,” the 19-year-old, who hails from Bhavnagar, says.

This has been a good season for him so far. Despite a patchy start, he bounced back to transform into one of the major batsmen of the Saurashtra side. His calibre was proven in the first innings when he played a knock of 84, and at a time when the other batsmen faltered to UP’s pace attack.

And the youngster says, he is learning a lot from his maiden season.

“I have learned a lot about fitness and also lot about how to handle pressure in a longer tournament. The seniors like Cheteshwar bhai definitely helped a lot,” he says.

On Saturday, his target was to score as many runs as possible before the new ball was taken. “I got used to the old ball and that’s why the target was to pick up as many runs as possible. We knew once UP took the new ball, things could get a bit tricky and that’s something we did not want,” he says. “We wanted to settle down.”

His father runs a clothing store in Bhavnagar and cricket was something that did not come easily for Desai. “I got the support of my father, but my mother did not want me to play cricket. But over the years, she has accepted the fact that I can play the game,” he laughs.

After a good run in the quarterfinals, Desai wants to keep the momentum going in the semifinals against Karnataka. “Karnataka will be a tough opponent but we have to play to our strength,” he says.

It has been an eventful campaign for Saurashtra so far and the youngster wants to go with the flow.