On Thursday, Delhi batsman Milind Kumar will go through his routine before he goes out to bat against Gujarat in what will be his second first class match. “I do a bit of warm-up, I then do a bit of knocking. Finally, I think about the shots I want to play,” says Milind.
However, while Kumar's routine may not change, things won't be the same for the 20-year-old. “It's different now that I have scored a century on debut,” says Milind, who hit 119 against Haryana last week. “It was a dream come true for me, but now there also a lot of expectations from me,” says Milind.
Indeed it has been a sea change for the middle-order batsman who only about a week before his first class debut was playing in the U-22 CK Nayudu Trophy. An under-pressure knock of 98 against Mumbai there fast-tracked him into the senior squad.
“Of course there is a lot of difference between the U-22 level and the senior squad in the quality of the players and that results in a lot of mental pressure. In the age-group level, you can lose focus for a couple of deliveries and you may survive. But in the first class level, if you get distracted for even a fraction of a second, you know you will lose your wicket.”
There is also the additional pressure of trying to cement your place in a state that is brimming with talent. “With so many talented players who are all deserving of a place in the squad, there is a lot of healthy competition amongst the players. Additionally, there are plenty of players in the U-22 set up who are also performing. Everytime you get some runs, it allows you some breathing space.”
What helped him, he says, was the support of his seniors. “I have been lucky that the senior players are looking out for me. Mithun bhai was always ready to help me out before the match. During the match, Rajat bhai and I shared a good partnership. Whenever he thought that I was losing concentration, he would come over to me and tell me to think only of the next ball,” he says.
As such, the hundred gave him the confidence of belonging in the big league. And his immediate target is not to be complacent. His U-22 coach Amit Bhandari, spoke to him soon after his knock. “It's a