Astonishing feat, albeit on a very small ground

Given the size of the ground, an individual score of 400 may not be beyond a decent first-class cricketer.

A file picture of Mohit Ahlawat.

Lalita Park is a congested locality in east Delhi. To have a park in the neighbourhood is a privilege for the residents. To transform that park into a cricket field is a brilliant show of organisational skills by some youngsters who have sprung the Friends T20 League.

The setting speaks for the impact that the game has made through the medium of television. “IPL (Indian Premier League) style,” smiles a kid as the commentator announces the score, the equation too in the second half of the contest, at the end of the over and loud music entertains the audience at every boundary hit.

The man in charge of the music is busy since there are hits galore and the spectators break into a dance at every four and six. A first-class cricketer, Mohit Ahlawat, hammered an unbeaten 300 in a match at this very ground on Tuesday. An astonishing feat by any standard but a visit to the venue compels you to have a rethink.

The park is surrounded by multi-storied houses and the square boundary on either side is hardly 25 yards. The cover boundary is less than 20 yards and batting is from one end only because the organisers fear backlash from the residents if the big hits repeatedly smash their window panes.

The tournament is not sanctioned by the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA). The umpires too are not from the State panel. In fact, they officiate in casual attire and one of them, on Wednesday, stood in a track suit.

Against this background it was hardly astonishing that Ahlawat, a talented wicketkeeper-batsman who figured in three first-class matches for Delhi in the 2015-16 season, hit a triple century. Given the size of the ground, an individual score of 400 may not be beyond a decent first-class cricketer.

It was not Ahlawat’s fault that he became a media star and his feat trended on Twitter for a while. There was hype around his routine turn out at the Delhi Daredevils practice games at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Said a DD official, “We just wanted to have a look at the kid. He is talented. As of now not much need be read into his appearance and his 300 has nothing to do with it at all. He was on our shortlist already.”

Ahlawat, on his part, was said to be embarrassed by the attention he had earned because of the 300 at the small Lalita Park ground where every hit has the potential to cross the boundary, more over it, than along the ground.

More than two decades ago, a local left-arm spinnner would get into print in unsuspecting newspapers by giving scores of matches held in Dubai in which he would invariably be the star performer, claiming wickets of the likes of David Boon and the Waugh brothers, Steve and Mark. His teammates included Dilip Vengsarkar and Kiran More. Inquiries led us to discover there were no such matches played in Dubai. He beat a hasty retreat and was reportedly officiating as an umpire in local women’s matches.

In another instance, an enterprising batsman achieved Bradmanlike consistency, hitting a century every time he walked to the crease in a local tournament at the Karnail Singh Stadium. Only, there was no such tournament in the first place.

Ahlawat at least made his runs, albeit on a very small ground against a non-descript attack.

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