‘Put a price tag on your wicket, and enjoy’
Last season, Karnataka wicketkeeper CM Gautam averaged just 23.70, a big drop from 44 over his first three seasons. But Gautam knew where he had been going wrong – he had been LBW seven times. “My head was falling over, and my front foot was going too far across,” Gautam says. “Before this season, I worked hard on staying still.”
Gautam started 2012-13 scoring 21 as Karnataka failed to grab the lead against Baroda. They seemed destined for the same fate in their next game when Gautam walked in. Tamil Nadu had made 538; Karnataka were 289/5. Gautam scored an unbeaten 130; Karnataka took the lead.
With a number of his teammates out of form, Gautam was soon promoted to number four. “At 100 for five, I had to attack right up,” he says. “I enjoyed that, but now I had time to play myself in.”
The move paid off spectacularly. Gautam made 257 against Vidarbha, and 264* against Maharashtra, lifting his side into the knock-outs.
Bigger things might be around the corner, but Gautam won’t change the mantra that brought him his recent success: “I had no targets. It was just 'put a price tag on your wicket, and enjoy.'”
Patience pays off for three-ton talent
In his first three seasons, Rishi Dhawan had built up a solid all-round resume as an all-rounder, averaging 34 with the bat and 25 with the ball. But playing in the Plate division (now Group C), Dhawan knew he needed an extraordinary season to make the step up. And he achieved this, with 497 Ranji runs at an average of 71.00, including three centuries, and 36 wickets at 26.38, to force his way into the India A squad.
Dhawan hadn't scored a first class century before this season, even though he once made a triple hundred in his U-19 days.
“I was an opener my junior days but since Himachal’s batting line-up is so deep, I've only got opportunities lower down. This year, our top order failed a few times and I had to shoulder more responsibility,” says Dhawan. “In the nets, I would constantly tell myself that I shouldn't throw my wicket with silly shots.”
With the limited-overs season around the corner, Dhawan can revert to his natural slam-bang style with the bat. But he is looking to add a new dimension to