CHENNAI: Third time is the charm. That may very well have been one among the thoughts which might have crossed Mahipal Lomror’s mind on Friday evening at the Murugappa Polytechnic College ground.
After taking over the reins from Aniket Choudhary (he missed the match for attending to personal affairs), the 18-year-old vice-captain had just skippered Rajasthan to their first win in this year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy. It was a comprehensive one (six wickets and two-and-a-half overs to spare), and that too against a domestic juggernaut: Mumbai.
There were two metaphorical cherries on this cake’s icing. Apart from notching up a 77-ball 81 during this match, the clash marked Lomror’s first outing as a List A captain, ending in a success like his two previous man-in-charge forays (against Karnataka and Jharkhand in the Super League stage) during Rajasthan’s runners-up run in the Syed Mushtaq Trophy.
“I’m really happy after the way things have panned out today. After initial hiccups, our batsmen hardly missed a step during the chase,” observed the southpaw. “In terms of being a captain, it’s more of a group effort. We make use of our collective experience for putting in place our tactics.”
The presence of Prithvi Shaw stoked memories from India’s recent U-19 World Cup triumph among some disinterested students who occasionally meandered towards the venue, in turn sparking discussions among the few journalists in attendance about Lomror and his teammate Syed Khaleel Ahmed.
It was in the previous edition of the same event when the all-rounder from Nagaur and his speedster teammate emerged from obscurity. A five-for coupled with a quickfire 45 in only his second stint (against New Zealand) catapulted the former into national limelight. That in turn spurred the Delhi Daredevils to shell out `10 lakh for Lomror in the same year. The spinner-cum-willow-wielder, though, wasn’t handed the opportunity to take to the field then.
But contributions with both bat and ball during this year’s Syed Mushtaq Trophy — including a 55-ball 74 against Mumbai just three days before the IPL auctions — turned the heads of returnees Rajasthan Royals, who bagged Lomror for his base price of `20 lakh. “Every time I take to the field, my focus is on giving my best. I was glad when Royals picked me. With the IPL set to return to Jaipur, I am excited and hoping for a chance to turn out in front of my home crowd.”
The scouts of Daredevils and Royals aren’t the only ones to have attested to the big-hitting potential of this left-hander. Chandrakant Pandit, a name that needs no introduction for those keyed into domestic cricket, had done the same when Lomror was a 11-year-old, that too with quite the sobriquet: Junior Chris Gayle.
“Chandrakant sir had said that when he was Rajasthan Cricket Association’s director (2011). We were in Mumbai for the U-14 Varroc Shield. I had scored 250 in the final. He called me that after the match. After that, sab log chaalu ho gaye the (Everybody started using it). But, abhi thoda kam bolte hain (Now it’s not that much).”