Young Sudip Gharami finally did justice to his talent with a maiden first class hundred that steered Bengal to a commanding 310 for 1 against Jharkhand on the first day of Ranji Trophy 2021-22 quarterfinal on Monday. (More Cricket News)
Jharkhand's pedestrian effort with the ball also helped Bengal's cause as Gharami, who had a highest score of 27 in his four previous appearances, showed fine temperament and impressive technique en route his unbeaten 106-run knock that came off 204 balls with 13 fours and a six.
The stylish Anushtup Majumdar (85 batting, 139 balls) also played attractive shots as they added 178 runs for the unbroken second-wicket stand. While Gharami was methodical in his stroke-play, Majumdar's batted with utter disdain for rival bowlers as his innings could be called a highlight package of "pull-shots".
The Jharkhand attack was also hamstrung when Rahul Shukla sustained an injury while fielding just before the second new ball was taken. Bengal were inflicting the similar kind of ignominy that Jharkhand had inflicted on Nagaland when they made a mockery of a contest in the pre-quarterfinals by scoring 880 runs.
Skipper Abhimanyu Easwaran (65) and Abhishek Raman (41 retd hurt) laid the foundation by blunting the new ball attack and then on a good batting surface, it was all about punishing the loose deliveries.
Gharami Comes Of Age
In the past two seasons, good things were heard about Gharami, who had made his debut during the 2020 Ranji Trophy finals against Saurashtra but appeared shaky during that high-profile game. Head coach Arun Lal, who has seen the 23-year-old as a teenager at his own cricket academy, always had faith in his talent and that shone through on the day.
“He was once rejected from district age-group team because the authorities had problems with me. I remember when he was a teenager, he would accompany me to various coaching centres across districts for a net session as clubs wouldn't enrol him,” Gharami's childhood coach Debesh Chakraborty told PTI.
“Once Arun saw him (Gharami), he gave the boy chance to have a place to practice permanently. Once, a club told us that we need to come at 5:30 am in the morning and we will get two hours to have nets till 7:30 am before their boys turn up for training.
“I would arrange for four net bowlers who would bowl to Sudip. This Ranji century is an ode to his struggles,” said Chakraborty, known as one-stop solution for any cricketer wanting to get match practice.
A fine back-foot player, Gharami prefers the on-side more and the drives and the pulls that he executed against Jharkhand was indicative that he was confident about his scoring areas. To help his cause, all the Jharkhand pacers bowled either short on both sides of the wicket or bowled wide outside the off-stump.
Against quality spinners like Shahbaz Nadeem (0/61) and Anukul Roy, Gharami used his feet well and would time and again come down the track and drive on either side of the wicket. Even in his 90s, there was no nervousness as he flicked Sushant Mishra (1/75) to reach 99 and then completed his hundred.
Gharami's father was once a daily contract labourer and to ensure that his son is never deprived of anything, worked his way up and is now a labour contractor.
“They weren't well off at one stage but over the past few years, they have moved up the ladder. His father is doing well and Sudip, apart from playing first-class, plays for CAB's top club East Bengal. But Sudip isn't money-minded and that has helped him as cricketer,” the coach said.
Brief Scores: Bengal 310/1 (Sudip Gharami 106 batting, Anushtup Majumdar 85 bating, Abhimanyu Easwaran 65; Sushant Mishra 1/75) vs Jharkhand. Match to continue.