Played defensively for the team: Herwadkar
Mumbai, Jan 24: Left-hand batsman Akhil Herwadkar is an important cog in the Mumbai Under-19 line-up. His 138 in the first innings of the Cooch Behar Trophy semifinal clash against UP that helped Mumbai make it to the final was a result of continuous hard work and interaction with the senior Mumbai cricketers.
After Mumbai opted to bat at the Wankhede Stadium in the big encounter, Akhil, who loves to play the attacking game, decided to drop anchor and played watchfully. “I thought if I played defensively it would help the team. If we would have lost one or two wickets in succession then we would have been in trouble. It was not as easy for a new batsman to come in and play. The plan was to see the new ball through and not take too many risks on the first day,” Akhil explained about his team’s strategy and his role in it.
Speaking about his experience with the senior team, he said, “In Ranji Trophy I watched everyone’s innings. I saw Rohit Sharma and Wasim Jaffer play, how they built their innings, their temperament. I learnt a bit from that and it helped me here.
And did he receive any valuable tips from the seniors? “Wasim Jaffer and Sulakshan Kulkarni Sir told me to leave the new ball because if an opening batsman tries to hit it, there might be a nick. I kept that in mind while playing here. They told me not to play across [the line], play straight.”
The advice clearly helped the youngster develop his game. “[Earlier in the season I] scored one century in a one-day and I have one now; I also hit a fifty against MP. I was scoring around 50 or 60 runs earlier, but was not able to convert [the starts into big scores].”
Identifying his problem, Akhil’s teammates rallied around him to help him play longer. “Whenever I was around the 70s [and] I played a cross-batted shot, my partner would remind me to play straight.” Similarly, Akhil talks to his partners in the middle and urges them to play along the ground when they are tempted to hit the big shots.
Recalling his sole Ranji game against Orissa, Akhil said, “I could have played better; it was my mistake that got me out. [I] played across[the line] with the new ball and learnt from that; one should play straight when the new ball is in play. All the senior players there advised me to play straight so that helped here.”
Coming in to bat at No. 3 against UP, Akhil explained the reason behind his changed batting position. “The team required me to do that because Jaideep [Pardeshi] [also opens]. The coach explained the situation to me and said I could do it. And I am comfortable doing it.”
A useful bowler, Akhil chipped in with some offspin too. “We played four fast bowlers and we didn’t have an offspinner, so I had to bowl. If I can claim one or two wickets, it is good for the team. I also bowl in one-dayers […]”, said the multi-faceted cricketer.
Speaking about his journey so far, the youngster said, “I always wanted to be cricketer. […] When I first started playing cricket at the age of five in my native place, Imran Sir [was my coach]. He taught me the basics. Now I’ve been here for the last four years and since then Gaitonde Sir from my club is my coach.”
Like any other youngster, Akhil too is eager to play in the senior squad. The Under-19 World Cup later this here is clearly on his mind. Speaking about the significance of the knock against UP, he said, “The better I play, the chances are greater for an Under-19 berth. It’s good that I played the semifinal.”