India domestic news December 10, 2011

Maharashtra teenager slams unbeaten 451

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In May this year, while at a camp with the India Under-16 team, Vijay Zol met Virender Sewhag at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore. Sehwag learned that Zol was the highest scorer in the latest Vijay Merchant Trophy, the domestic U-16 tournament. Zol also told Sehwag that during the final against Delhi he had suffered from torn ligaments in his left knee and had been out of cricket for nearly four months after surgery in February.

Sehwag gave the now 17-year-old Zol several pep talks and an unexpected present as well. "Sehwag asked me about my knee injury and spoke about other things and then gifted me a bat," Zol recalls. The bat had a simple message on it: "Dear Vijay Zol, Best Wishes. Sehwag." He still marvels at the gift and was certain he would never play with it.

Zol, who hails from Jalna in Maharashtra, says the confidence he derived from the chat with his idol played a crucial role in his remarkable unbeaten 451 for Maharashtra U-19s against Assam U-19s in the on-going league match of the Cooch Behar Trophy in Nasik. Though there are no official records to verify exactly where he stands in the record books in youth cricket, Zol's score was higher than Bhausaheb Nimbalkar's landmark 443, the highest first-class score by an Indian, set in 1948 during a Ranji match between Maharashtra and Kathiawar.

Asked about his feat, Zol said his record was still sinking in. "When you score 451 you can't even express exactly how one feels," Zol told ESPNcricinfo over the telephone from Nasik at the end of the third, and penultimate, day's play.

Zol, a left-hand opener, took nearly 11 hours, faced 467 deliveries, and hit 53 boundaries along with two sixes in his outstanding innings, which was more than double his previous career-best score of 222. That double-century came against Gujarat in the leagues stages of last year's Vijay Merchant tournament. Asked about the ingredients needed to play a marathon innings, Zol picked out patience as the most necessary factor. "Shot selection is equally important. The margin of error is very minimal so you have to be on your toes always."

Zol said the pitch in Nasik was good for batsmen. "The bowling attack was decent but the track supported me a lot." Zol also praised the contributions of his team-mates. The best partnership was of 284, with his opening partner Jai Pande, who missed a century by three runs.

Zol completed his century in the first session of the match and carried on to reach 264 by stumps on the first day. David Andrews, the Maharashtra coach, was confident that Zol could go for a truly massive score given that the conditions were helpful. On the second day, Zol continued to play his shots freely, putting on 230 with Maharashtra's No. 3 Abhishek Salvi.

At the end of the second session, Maharashtra had amassed 763 for 4 and decided to declare. Zol was 49 short of 500 runs. "I was not disappointed. The team comes first. It was a flat pitch so we needed time to get 20 wickets," he said of the decision to declare. On Saturday, Assam were bundled out for 158 in their first innings and were 140 for 4 after being forced to follow-on.

If he wasn't at the match, Zol could have been at the BCCI Awards ceremony in Chennai to pick up his prize for Best Under-16 Cricketer, possibly from Sehwag himself, and met the other Indian players too. Zol said he was happy to be in Nasik, helping Maharashtra towards a win. "It is an honour to get an award from the BCCI but I would have missed something more important than that," Zol, a standard nine drop-out, said. He was happy his dad Hari Zol, an advocate, collected the award on his behalf.

Zol said his feat means a lot to him. "It is a big milestone for me. I know my ability now and how far I can go." When he crossed 400 it was revealed to Zol that he was close to Nimbalkar's famous score. "I had never heard that name ever," was Zol's frank response. For the moment, his knowledge of cricket history does not matter. His own name is now in the history books.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 13, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    It was my privilage to be with VIJAY ZOL in the Under 19 WEST ZONE team where I was a Manager at Simago ( KArnataka) . Vijay scored in all 4 matches and helped the West Zone WIN the tournament. In 2 matches he was Man of the Match also. A very compact batsman, and a very determined player to play long innings. I wish him All the BEst to play for India as soon as possible. Since long time NO players has played from Maharastra , so now it's time for the VIJAY ZOL...!

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 16:34 GMT

    I am one of the very few lucky persons present on the ground watching the heroics of Vijay. He really has all the makings of a great player-poise, patience, talents, stamina, temperament & strokes. He played for five sessions then declarations came at tea on the second day, but he came out for fielding immediately without showing any signs of fatigue. he definitely has avery bright future provided he keeps his fitness & performance as per the expectations.

  • Naresh28 on December 12, 2011, 9:34 GMT

    He is only 16 yrs old. Needs to make the india u19 and then proceed from there. Long way to go. We keep churning out great talent. Him and Nimbalkar should be nurtured by BCCI. BCCI cant we have the same happenning on pace bowling. Wake UP.

  • Fast_Track_Bully on December 12, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    @spence1324 . YES THE GLASS IS HALF EMPTY!, ISN'T IT? PATHETIC!

  • Precioustar84 on December 12, 2011, 6:04 GMT

    Congrats to Vijay Zol! But as a Team India fan, can we ever get articles on great bowlers please?! Or do we not have enough out there. Too many batsmen produced in every corner of India lately; would love to see some quality bowlers to strengthen up the national team. With scores like these, sometimes I wonder if anyone would even want to be a bowler after getting clobbered or seeing someone else get clobbered. Not the best feeling probably.

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 5:31 GMT

    Wish this lad doesn't go Nimbalkar way. Nimbalkar never represented India despite performing brilliantly in domestic circuit. Selection issue was prevalent even then.

  • RandyOZ on December 11, 2011, 22:40 GMT

    Oh no not another wall! Good to see players emulating real stars like Sehwag and Dravid.

  • BHAARATVARSH on December 11, 2011, 19:00 GMT

    @Doc Grumpy: yes.. he will probably not make 450+ in Eng/Aus... but still pulverise the bowlers and gladly settle for 200+ :-))

  • marmao on December 11, 2011, 18:29 GMT

    @Doc Scrumpy and of course you know it all. Either way well done young man.

  • spence1324 on December 11, 2011, 18:06 GMT

    Congrats to the man very promising!,however highlights again the quality of indian bowling (NOT VERY GOOD)!

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