Six months can be a long time in professional sport. Pranav Dhanawade would know.
Touted the next big thing in Mumbai cricket after his unbeaten 1009-run knock in January, life hasn’t gone as per plan for the 16-year-old.
While the effort underlined his talent and appetite for runs, for consistency against better opposition, it’s technique and temperament which count. That innings in the quarterfinal of the HT Bhandari Cup, an inter-school tournament in Thane district, did not provide proof of these qualities.
The record was followed by scores of 74 and 156 in the semifinal and 40 and 20 runs in the final. Life got harder from there on. Dhanawade was overlooked by the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA), which pays him a monthly sum of ` 10000, for an off season training camp for U-19 probables.
The 16-year-old played a couple of matches in the Thane Premier League, a 20-over tournament, and Thosar Trophy, a 45-over tournament, where the runs dried up.
A month ago, Dhanawade’s exclusion from the West Zone U -16 team caused a fur ore on social media even though he was not eligible for selection as he has never represented Mumbai.
A senior Mumbai coach quipped, “His case was mainly media hype.”
Former India captain Ajit Wadekar, who had felicitated Dhanawade for the feat, says; “It (the 1009-run knock) showed the guy has the appetite for runs. I am sure he will come up with age.”
Dhanawade is back in Mumbai after an almost month-long training stint at the Just cricket Academy near Bengaluru, where KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Manish Pandey have had stints. A 16-day trip to England with Worli Cricket Club to play nine exposure matches in Leicester later this month is also on the horizon.
How these stints reverse his fate remains to be seen. In a sense, the 1009- run knock will be the monkey on Dhanawade’s back, for every knock he has scored since then, or will score, will be judged against the yardstick of that one innings.