New Delhi: The stage was set. It was a college tournament consisting of best teams from India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, when a 20-year-old boy from Rizvi College smashed an unbeaten 98 off just 28 balls. He destroyed the opposition bowling single-handedly and helped his team win the tournament.
Former Pakistan wicket-keeper Moin Khan was among those watching the boy and he said that this special talent needs to be watched out for in the future.
That boy was none other than Siddhesh Lad and a year later he made his debut for Mumbai.
“He was a natural talent, every child is given a bat and ball when he is small. But the way he held the bat and the way his bat flow was, I knew that he was a born cricketer. From the age of 6 I started giving him special attention and always wanted to see him become a cricketer,” says his father Dinesh Lad, who is also a famous name in Mumbai cricket circles.
“I never gave him any preference when coaching him in the group, but since he was my son, I used to work with him on Saturday and Sunday as well, when other kids had an off. I had to ensure that I gave him the best of coaching,” adds Lad, who has also coached Rohit Sharma when he was young.
Now Siddhesh and Rohit share the same Mumbai Indians dressing room at Wankhede stadium.
“Rohit is like an elder brother to Siddhesh, he keeps talking to him about the game and has also had a word with me. He spoke in the media also about giving a chance to Siddhesh. But I understand, it depends on the combinations he wants. The Mumbai middle-order is also packed with the likes of Pandya, Pollard and Rohit himself. Suryakumar is also doing well as an opener but Siddhesh should see this as a learning experience and improve his game,” adds Dinesh.
This has been the breakout year for Siddhesh in the domestic circuit, he was the highest run scorer in all three formats for Mumbai.
He scored an impressive 652 runs at an average of 59.27 in the Ranji Trophy. He was even better in the Vijay Hazare trophy, where he scored 373 runs in 6 matches at an average of 62.16.
In the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy as well he scored 271 runs at a strike-rate of 138.26.
In fact, he is known as the ‘Crisis man’ for Mumbai and that tag came to the fore in Mumbai’s 500th Ranji match – where they were up against Baroda and were facing an embarrassing defeat.
But Lad’s gritty innings of 71* of 238 balls helped his team come out with a draw.
He also scored 82 in the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy final for Mumbai, an important innings which helped Mumbai win their 41st title.
His father has only one advice for him – not to get disheartened and continue performing in the domestic circuit.
“See IPL is not the priority, my dream is to see him play for India. If he continues performing the same way for a couple of more seasons, it will be hard for the selectors to ignore him,” says Dinesh, signing off.
First Published: May 8, 2018, 11:45 AM IST