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Ankit Bawne’s innings is proof of his remarkable consistency over the years

Ankit Bawne was dismissed for 89 in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final against Karnataka. Photo Courtesy Ankit Bawne’s Facebook page
Ankit Bawne was dismissed for 89 in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final against Karnataka. Photo Courtesy Ankit Bawne’s Facebook page

Ankit Bawne’s splendid 89 set the tone for Maharashtra in their Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final against Karnataka. Nishad Pai Vaidya discusses Bawne’s efforts so far.

Ankit Bawne’s splendid innings of 89 has led the way for Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final against Karnataka. In the big game, Karnataka were keeping Maharashtra in check and had then at 90 for three at one stage, when Bawne walked in. Were there any nerves or pressure; given the fact that it is a big game? “Obviously, there is pressure. The knockouts are such that you lose and you are out, but here there is a trophy at stake. But, there is excitement also. If you score here, everyone is watching. So, it is a positive,” he declared to the media as he finished Day One unbeaten on 89; waiting for that famous ton. It was unfortunate that he missed out on it as he was bowled by Abhimanyu Mithun off the first ball.

His innings is yet another proof of Bawne’s consistency and precocious talent. All of 21 years of age, he has seven years of domestic experience behind him as he made his debut only days after his 15th birthday in 2007. Consider this: in 40 matches (excluding the ongoing Ranji final), he has scored 2,616 runs at an average of 54.50 with eight tons and 14 fifties. While he made his debut during the 2007-08 season, it is only since 2009 that he has found consistency. Here is a break-up of his performance season-wise:

Season

M

R

Ave

100s

50s

HS

2007-08

1

27

13.50

0

0

27

2008-09

3

133

26.60

0

1

52

2009-10

5

369

36.90

2

0

136

2010-11

5

257

51.40

1

0

159

2011-12

7

531

75.85

2

2

166*

2012-13

8

603

60.30

1

6

155*

2013-14

11

670

67.00

1

5

138

In the last four seasons, Bawne has averaged over 50 and has scored six tons along the way. He didn’t have the luxury of playing the full season earlier as Maharashtra did not progress too far ahead. However, this year, they have been a surprise package and that has allowed the likes of Bawne, Harshad Khadiwale and Kedar Jadhav add to their run tally.

It is quite surprising that for someone so consistent, he hasn’t been spoken of a lot in the domestic circles. In fact, unfortunate circumstances saw him miss out on being part of the India Under-19 side in 2011-12. Eventually, it was that team which went on to lift the ICC Under-19 World Cup in 2012 and Bawne could have become a known name had he been there. It is perhaps the fact that he played for Maharashtra that he was in near oblivion, but this was his chance to shine as there is enormous interest in the finale of the premier domestic tournament.

Bawne isn’t your flashy batsman, but his style suggests that he is a thinking cricketer. In all the three knockout games, he has walked into situations where the team needed him to perform. During the big game, the quarter-final against arch-rivals Mumbai, he was in as early as 24 for three with his side facing 402. His innings of 84 was brisk, consuming only 113 balls. By the time he got out, Maharashtra were past 160 and there was a long-road ahead. They did concede a 122-run lead, but would that remarkable fightback have been possible had Bawne not set the platform?

Even in the semi-final, Maharashtra needed to capitalise after bowling Bengal out for 114. At 91 for three, Bawne walked in and set the stage with a dour 89. This innings was in complete contrast when compared to the pacy knock at Mumbai as he faced over 200 balls. This time, it was a seaming track and he adjusted his style to suit the game. In fact, earlier in the season, he hit 138 not out against Maharashtra on a seaming track, with Rishi Dhawan leading the Himachal Pradesh attack.

In this Maharashtra unit, Bawne knocks his role well and has performed it to perfection. In a side that has all its players performing, Bawne is a vital cog at No 5 and is someone who holds the batting together. He is very balanced at the crease and plays by the textbook; choosing his opportunities to score. Those are the makings of a classy batsman.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)

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