Siddhesh Lad, still waiting for a full IPL

Middle-order batsman Lad spent five years with Mumbai Indians for one match and now, the coronavirus pandemic further delays his KKR debut.

Siddhesh Lad celebrates after scoring a century in a Ranji Trophy match against Saurashtra in 2018.   -  Vivek Bendre

Mumbai cricketer Siddhesh Lad has been training at his terrace amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Every morning he wakes up and wishes for a better tomorrow as his city — the epicentre of the coronavirus accounting for more than half of Maharashtra’s two lakh cases — fights the virus.

Lad is used to hardships. He spent five years with Mumbai Indians for one match in the IPL, making himself the perfect model for character-building. The advice from superstars Mahela Jayawardene and Rohit Sharma helped him excel in domestic cricket. "I always tried to learn from my team-mates and coaches. I tried to observe their habits and traits. It was difficult to find a place in the XI as it is a star-studded team but Mahela was very helpful and I got to learn a lot from him.

"I feel progress happens at different times for different people," said Lad in a chat with Sportstar.

IPL 2020, indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, would have been a fresh start for the middle-order batsman as he was traded to Kolkata Knight Riders by MI. No sporting action has been challenging for the uncapped talent.

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“I have never seen this city come to a standstill like this ever before. But things are getting better gradually. The authorities are doing an exceptional job of making sure we are safe. The people have shown great discipline in taking safety measures and shown great deal of patience.

“I have been trying to prepare mentally and physically at home. There isn’t a lot I can do considering the space constraints in Mumbai but I have managed to get some basic equipment and try it on my terrace [when it is not raining]. I am missing the skill part but there isn’t any option currently,” said Lad, who is also an occasional off-spinner.

Siddhesh Lad averages above 40 in first-class and List A cricket.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

In such testing times, Lad realised the importance of being employed as there is no clarity on the domestic cricket season either. “It is something that has crossed my mind to be honest but looking at this moment, I just want to get back to the field as soon as possible. I really hope things get better as the sports fraternity is suffering. I am fortunate to have been associated with Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. My salary gets credited to my account every month. So now I really know the importance of being associated with them,” he said.

KKR, new dreams

The right-hander is raring to have a go at the nets whenever outdoor training resumes. He wants to face the pace batteries of KKR but it has been "emotional" to leave MI. "I am a professional cricketer and I would enjoy playing rather than sitting on the bench. I feel IPL is the biggest platform to showcase your talent because you compete with the best and elite players from all over the world. You actually come to know where you stand.

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"I feel KKR has got exciting fast bowlers in the squad, almost every bowler clocks 140kmph. It will be challenging to face Pat Cummins and Lockie Ferguson at the nets," he said.

Lad's story could be similar to that of Suryakumar Yadav, who went to KKR from MI for opportunities. After three years with the Kolkata franchise, Suryakumar had a sensational comeback for MI, scoring 936 runs in the last two editions of the league.

Lad averages above 40 in first-class and List A cricket. In T20s, he is at 26.03 which is bound to get better with time and experience.

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