With just one run left to complete his maiden first-class century, 19-year old Kaushal Singh was unsure of how to get to the elusive three-digit mark in the Ranji Trophy game against Maharashtra.
He had just survived a dangerous run-out situation and with the new ball behaving wickedly on a difficult track, he wanted to make sure that he reaches his ton safely.
Next up was a full-length ball a tad outside his off stump, and Singh thought that his moment was finally here. He heaved the ball over cover but as soon as it came off the bat, he realised he had not timed it well. Fortunately for him, though, the ball grazed the fingers of the outstretched hand of the fielder and had just enough power on it to reach the boundary.
And then came the celebrations. Singh sprinted and jumped in joy, pumping his fist towards his dressing room, which featured his role model Mahendra Singh Dhoni watching on in delight.
The early years
Hailing from Palamu district in Jharkhand, Singh's tryst with cricket began as a 10-year old when he accompanied his elder brother to his district-level matches.
He soon began playing tennis-ball cricket at local and club level, and eventually graduated to the leather ball version after trying out successfully for his district side.
Singh is known for his attacking style with the bat, something he says he developed playing in the streets with the tennis ball.
He said, "In those games, you don't have much time to get your eye in. You have to start attacking from the very first ball and this is how I developed my strokeplay."
Singh plays a mature innings
Coming in to bat with half his side out and trailing by more than 100 runs, Singh showed maturity beyond his years to bat out the day and keep the scoreboard ticking as Jharkhand overtook Maharashtra's first innings total of 210 to close out Day 2 of the new Ranji Trophy campaign in a dominant position.
In what is now his third Ranji season, Singh couldn't have asked for a better start to the new campaign. His batting at the Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi was a fine display of patience coupled with the right amount of aggression, which turned the game on his head.
He slammed 14 fours and three sixes during his 289-minute stay, with some deft touches behind the wicket as well as some powerful reverse shots through the off-side.
He was ably supported by Virat Singh, Shahbaz Nadeem, and skipper Varun Aaron during his innings, resulting in three 50+ partnerships as Jharkhand seized the initiative and put Maharashtra on the back foot.
Jharkhand coach, captain laud Kaushal’s innings
Rajiv Kumar, the Jharkhand coach, has worked with Kaushal for the last four years and was visibly proud of his ward's mature knock.
"I know Kaushal from his U-19 days and have always rated him highly as an all-rounder. He has an important role to play for us at no. 7, as he can comfortably switch between medium pace and off-spin as per the conditions. Today we needed him with the bat and he showed great mental strength to pull us out of trouble, that too on a difficult track", said the 39-year old.
Jharkhand captain Aaron, who ended the day unbeaten with Singh, was also full of praise for the youngster. He called him a prospect to watch out for and lauded his contribution to the team's cause.
He said, "Kaushal was a valuable asset for us last season when he took 20 wickets and chipped in with a few handy half-centuries. He is primarily a limited-overs cricketer but knocks like these show that he can make a name for himself in the longer formats too."
Aaron called on the youngster to work hard and keep his head on his shoulders. Singh has started the new season in the best manner possible and it is now in his hands to continue his good form and cement his place in the Jharkhand side.