CHENNAI: On Friday at the Murugappa Polytechnic College ground, Mumbai lost both openers with their score reading 23/2. Enter crisis-man Siddhesh Lad. Like on numerous occasions over the course of this domestic season, Lad ensured that he held one end up, scoring a fine 102-ball century in the process. This ton was the 25-year-old’s second in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy. However, he could not inspire his team to victory as Team Rajasthan overhauled their target of 268 with six wickets to spare.
Lad has had one of his finest seasons, aggregating 652 runs in seven matches during the Ranji Trophy, the eighth best. He came to Mumbai’s rescue on occasions when they were staring down the barrel. “People have given me the moniker of ‘crisis man’. The team depends on me. I am relishing the responsibility. My focus is to help my team. Personal achievements come later,” he told Express. A batsman capable of absorbing pressure and playing throughout the day, Lad admits that prior to the season, he underwent mental conditioning to improve concentration levels.
“I used to be guilty of not converting starts. I wanted to make sure that I carried on. I have been successful this year, and I need to keep improving.”
Mumbai have always utilised Lad in a variety of positions, be it at three or as far down as six. While the player, contracted to IOC, has said that he has no problems, he admitted that his improved showings in this event have been due to a fixed position. “This time, I have been at No 3 or 4. I prefer them as they give me time to settle down.”
Lad is currently second in this tournament’s run-getter list (250 in four innings). The Mumbaikar showed that he is capable of big shots during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, where he totalled 271 runs in seven innings, at a strike-rate of 138.26. Most players capable of occupying the crease for long don’t tempt IPL franchises, as they are deemed good enough only for the longer formats. While Lad has been with the Mumbai Indians for the past three seasons, he is yet to make his debut.
This year again, he was bought by them for his base price of `20 lakh, and he is hoping to break that jinx. “I always believed that I was good enough to play, but the management thought otherwise. Three years is a long time. But this time, they came back for me and I was pleased. This year, I can hopefully make my bow in front of my home crowd.”