Taruwar Kohli has been named captain of Mizoram for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament starting February 21.
The right-handed batsman from Punjab, who won the ICC U-19 World Cup under Virat Kohli in 2008, had joined the new domestic side as an outstation player for the 2018-19 season.
Mizoram may have failed to impress so far, but Kohli has been a consistent performer. His Ranji Trophy show, 826 runs with two hundreds and five fifties, and 10 years of first-class cricket experience helped him earn the job.
Ahead of the tournament, Kohli told Sportstar that patience will be the key for the Mizoram players. He also feels the bowling attack could be a strong force if nurtured.
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“I think our biggest asset is bowling. The bowling is not as bad as the results have been. We have lost a couple of close games in the Ranji Trophy. We were a bit unlucky against Arunachal. I believe a lot in my bowling attack, and I think we are quite capable,” said the 30-year-old, who is also a handy seam bowler.
Kohli claimed 16 wickets, including a fifer, in Ranji Trophy. Lalhruai Ralte — who has been named vice-captain for the T20s — has been impressive as well.
Mizoram coach P.V. Shashikanth, a Ranji Trophy winning coach for Karnataka, has been instrumental in holding the side together in the tough hours.
“His stature is big but he is not arrogant at all. He is calm and composed. He has been the pillar no matter we win or lose. It helps the players stay united, helps in team bonding,” he added.
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For improvement and tougher challenges, Mizoram has started two-day 90-over games in the region to test its players. Kohli praised the initiative.
“This will help the players and create a cricket culture. Earlier, people in Mizoram only did odd jobs for a living. Now they know that cricket can be a good career option.”
“There is not much difference between the sides here and other states, as we are planning the same way and making our sessions intense. Everything is same, just that skill-wise our guys are not as good as the top teams,” said Kohli.
Mizoram will open its account against Bengal in Cuttack on Thursday.