CHENNAI: The then 20-year-old Saransh had yet not found his footing and was gearing up for an exposure trip to Australia organised by the Madhya Pradesh Cricket Association (MPCA) when a tragedy struck the Jain household in 2014.
His father, Subodh, a right-arm offbreak bowler who had played nine Ranji matches for Madhya Pradesh, was advised to undergo surgery for mouth cancer. After an intense discussion, the family decided not to inform Saransh about the development so he carried on with his exposure trip Down Under.
"We told him it's a minor thing and we just have to meet doctors in Mumbai," 59-year-old Subodh told this daily over the telephone. Since the surgery, Subodh remained on a liquid diet for several years before being allowed a semi-liquid diet.
Obviously, Saransh was furious when he was apprised of the truth on his return, but the overseas trip paved the way for him to pursue his career as a professional cricketer.
The growth might have been slow as despite making his Ranji debut in December 2014, he could manage only eight matches under his belt before MP started the ongoing Ranji season under coach Chandrakant Pandit. After not starting in any of the group matches, he got to play the quarterfinal against Punjab where he picked six wickets including a four-wicket haul in the second innings. The right-arm offbreak bowler followed it up with match figures of five wickets in MP's semifinal against Bengal.
"He hardly got a long run to prove his credentials but when Pandit arrived, things changed for the better. The trust paid off as Saransh not only claimed two wickets in Mumbai's first essay but also scored a half-century to ensure MP take a handy 162-run first innings lead," added the father.
MP were 430/6 when Saransh joined Rajat Patidar in the middle at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Saturday. With only a slender lead of 56 runs, the duo's task was cut out — extend the lead if their team wishes to lift their first Ranji title. They added 53 runs before Rajat (122) was castled by pacer Tushar Deshpande.
"Somehow, he (Saransh) could not perform with the bat in FC matches despite being a good batter. But the confidence showed in him by the coach finally helped him realise his potential. He not only scored his first Ranji fifty but also added 53 runs with the lower-order batters helping the team extend the lead to 162," said MPCA's secretary Sanjeev Rao.
The father was also glad as Saransh contributed handsomely with the bat. "I set up nets on my terrace to ensure he and his brother Sourabh could practice anytime. He learned off-break bowling from me but as a batter, he is way ahead of me. It's good that he finally found runs and scored runs, that too in a Ranji final."
MP were eventually bowled out for 536 but not before rain suspended play twice. Saransh (57 off 97 balls) was their last wicket to fall.
At stumps, Mumbai were 113/2, still trailing MP by 49 runs. Earlier, their skipper Prithvi Shaw (44) and Hardik Tamore (25) gave the team a brisk start going at more than six runs per over to keep the team's hopes alive.
Brief scores: Mumbai 374 & 113/2 in 22 ovs (Prithvi 44, Armaan 30 n.o) vs Madhya Pradesh 536 in 177.2 ovs (Yash 133, Rajat 122, Shubham 116, Saransh 57; Mulani 5/173).