When the Karnataka Premier League 2017 auction came to an end, a lot of fans were left questioning the tactics of the Bijapur Bulls. While they went on to bag a lot of experience in the bowling department in the form of Abhimanyu Mithun, Ronit More, and KC Cariappa, their batting line-up seemed to have a void.
However, ten days into the tournament and it looked like the Bulls’ owner knew exactly what he was doing. Having purchased 31-year-old Nidhish Mohanram, the decision has paid huge dividends.
With scores of 48,46, 33, and 29, Nidhish has turned a lot of heads, as scouts are finally taking note of his performances. With his all-out aggressive approach, Nidhish has decimated opposition bowlers all around the park and hit some massive sixes in the process.
“I was an aggressive batsman since the age of 14 when I was playing junior cricket. Robin Uthappa was my close friend so I’ve learnt a lot from him. In the past one year, there’s been quite a lot of improvement. Before, my head was wobbling a lot when I hit the ball. Now, I have made the adjustment as I keep my head still and watch the ball till the very end.”
With their backs against the wall, Nidhish, along with the experienced Mithun snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against the Bellary Tuskers just a couple of days ago.
With over 60 runs required in just four overs at a staggering required rate of over 15 runs per over, the Mithun-Nidhish duo smashed four sixes in a row to switch the momentum in their favour.
From there on, there was no turning back as the two batsmen continued the destruction and Mithun ended up taking the Bulls home with two maximums in the final over.
“When I went to bat, I just wanted to play a few balls. That’s what I usually do; I like to get my eye in. When I went in, the run-rate was extremely high, my partner at the other end, Dikshanshu Negi, and I had played well in the last match so I thought we could win the game by ourselves. Unfortunately, he got out so I had to take my chances and when Mithun chipped in as well, it all changed."
Along with Nidhish's 33, Mithun smashed 30 off just 10 balls with four huge sixes to his name.
“When he (Mithun) came in, I told him we need to take chances from now. There is no more waiting. Fortunately, when he came in, he hit two sixes in a row which began to change the momentum. After that, I hit two sixes, so it became four in four, and that changed the game completely."
The Bulls are currently on a two game winning streak after losing two closely fought encounters. They have performed supremely well in the bowling and batting department but their fielding has been below par as they have leaked quite a few runs in the middle overs.
“We need to work on our fielding. That is where we are lacking. We have to also concentrate on the dot balls in the middle overs. Apart from that, we are doing good on the field. The team is amazing, comprising fabulous cricketers and everyone is a match-winner,” said Nidhish.
Apart from the KPL, Nidhish has been a part of the domestic circuit for quite a while, having played for Karnataka for more than 15 years now, playing for different age groups as he progressed.
“My cricketing journey started when my dad first bought me a bat when I was a kid. I was picked first for the U-14 side. From there, I went on to play U-16, U-19, U-22, U-25, and the Ranji Trophy, and enrolled at the National Cricket Academy. It has been a good experience so far".
“I’ve played with (Bharat) Chipli and Mithun a lot in junior cricket. Cariappa is a great bowler: having played in the IPL has given him a lot of experience. We have got to learn a lot in this format when you see all these big players."
Everyone has a role model growing up. For most aspiring Indians, who grew up playing and watching cricket, Sachin Tendulkar was the biggest role model out there. However, over the past decade or so, Nidhish has been quite in awe of former Indian captain MS Dhoni.
My first role model was Sachin Tendulkar, who was the centre of attraction back then in the cricketing world. Right now, it is Dhoni. He is amazing.”
“The way he handles pressure on the field is amazing. His anger management, the way he is calm and composed, that attitude: it doesn’t come for everyone. Off the field, he is just the same. He keeps it simple. If the ball is there to be hit, he hits it as he has done so many times in the past.”
With his performances so far and a lot of scouts taking note of his performances, Nidhish could surely light up the IPL next year. If he continues to perform well throughout the tournament with this aggressive approach, he could be a perfect fit for any one of the franchises.
However, Nidhish reveals that he doesn’t want to read too much into the future just yet.
“I just want to stay in the present. I'm concentrating on the next match right now. If I do well now, let's see what happens in the future.”
“Everyone wants to play for their country. It’s a great honour. Not everyone is so lucky. Even I want to play but right now I want to focus on the present and concentrate on my work ethic and look to perform well in the KPL".
Indian stars such as Manish Pandey, KL Rahul, and Stuart Binny, who are part of the IPL, have brought in a lot of experience to their respective sides.
While a lot of critics questioned the Bulls’ decision of not picking too many experienced players in their side, Nidhish feels that it is not the experience, but the performance on the given day that matters.
“I don’t think being surrounded by big players makes a lot of difference. It depends on that particular day of the match where anyone can do well and shine. Of course, the experienced players can give a lot of inspiration but on match day, their experience can't win the game. It depends on the performance in the end".
One of the fittest players on the side, Nidhish doesn’t discount the importance of being physically fit, especially in the T20 format. He feels that physical prowess leads to mental strength as well.
“Physical fitness is very important. If you are physically fit, you are mentally fit. You cannot expect to go out on the field without being physically fit and expect to be mentally fit. If the body is supporting you, you are mentally strong. Physical fitness will help you a lot in your performance, especially in T20s where the intensity is extremely high.
The KPL has provided a great opportunity for cricketers like Nidhish to showcase their talent on the big stage and get themselves noticed. The tournament has been a stepping stone for a lot of cricketers who have gone on to make it big.
The 31-year-old feels that the KPL has been getting better every year. “It is great for all the players. If you perform well, who knows where you can end up,” he said.
With a lot of confidence up his sleeve and a spring in his step, Nidhish will surely look to bring the roof down with his performances over the rest of the season.