Ranji Trophy: The other Kohli helps cricket take root in Mizoram

Having been asked to play as a professional cricketer for Mizoram, Taruwar Kohli is now making headlines in the domestic circuit. He amassed 151 runs on Sunday against Nagaland in the ongoing Ranji Trophy. His first-class record is bulging consently. In the 49 first-class matches he has played, he has scored 3827 runs at a remarkable average of 51.02.
“Ranji Trophy is one of my favorite formats. I enjoy batting in this format. I was the second-highest run-scorer in the last season. I love playing Ranji Trophy because it suits my batting also. I love batting for longer times. This format actually tests you both mentally and physically”, he tells The Indian Express straight from the airport in a telephonic conversation.

Even after playing an outstanding inning of 151 runs, Taruwar was not gratified as his team lost the match. “It feels great but not completely because we lost the match. I tried my best, it is pleasing on one side and disappointing on the other. Being the captain, I could not help the team pull it off this time but as an individual it is pleasing,” he said.
The 33-year-old held a cricket bat for the first time when he was just 3-4 years of age. From there on, there has been no looking back. “I was very young, I think I was 3-4 years old when my dad bought me a cricket bat. That was the first time I took a bat in my hand and still, I am passionate about holding a cricket bat,” he added.
Lalchand Rajput, the current Zimbabwe coach, and former India coach has played a crucial role in Taruwar Kohli’s career. Kohli spoke highly about Rajput and stated, “I have played my U-17 for Punjab and then I went to NCA. I scored close to 380 runs in 5 innings. Eventually, I started doing well for Punjab, then I went to play U-19 where I did well in front of Lalchand Rajput. In that camp, I scored a century. Then, he wanted to pick me for the India U-19 squad.”

Found this photograph in our comm box in Ranchi. The boys who lifted the 2008 U19 World Cup.. Two Kohlis, a local boy, a keeper and a southpaw in there. Let’s see who gets all@of them right … #IndvSA
— Jatin Sapru (@jatinsapru) October 19, 2019
It has not been a comfortable ride for Kohli as he faced many ups and downs in his career after moving to seniors. Kohli initially donned Punjab’s jersey and then shifted his base to Mizoram.
He expressed his gratitude towards Munish Bali who encouraged him in his early days. During his Punjab Ranji days, Vikram Rathour, current India batting coach, also guided Kohli a lot.
In his late 20s, he had to make a decision and he said, “I was around 29 years old. I had a good run, I scored a triple century for Punjab. I also captained the Punjab team. But it was about being practical as I was not getting enough chances. I was 29 and they were looking for young talents. Players like Abhishek Sharma, Shubman Gill all those guys were coming in. So I looked ahead and I wanted to play the entire season without fail. That is why I moved to Mizoram. Mizoram gave me the golden opportunity to showcase my finesse. I am thankful to them.”
Virat Kohli recently played his 100th Test match for India and it’s a huge feat for him as a player. Speaking about his U-19 colleague, Taruwar said, “ I think his hunger to be the best and to win games for his team makes him the best among the current lot of players. I am really happy for him as he has played his 100th Test match and I think he still has plenty of cricket left in him.”
Kohli’s run in the English season
He also plays for Cawthorne CC in the South Premier Yorkshire league. It did help him in improving his skill-set as a player and as a batsman. He feels grateful to have gotten an opportunity to play in the English league.

“It was an amazing experience. There are mostly seaming conditions in England. I was again in a similar role, I played every match and finished the season as the highest run-scorer,” he said.
Mizoram’s love for football
Kohli’s very first season with Mizoram was surprising. As soon as he landed in Mizoram, he found players practicing on cemented wickets. There were no turf wickets at that point. People were more inclined towards playing football than cricket.
“In my first year, we practiced on the cement wicket, it was surprising. But slowly the culture is coming in and people are actually thinking that they can make a career out of this. Basically, the people there, are into football. They all love football more than cricket. They never used to play cricket initially”, Kohli said.

Mizoram is in good hands and is on the road to improvement. People like Mr. Mamon Majumder are actually working day and night to provide decent infrastructure to the players of Mizoram.
“Cards are turning and the Association led Mamon Majumder sir is actually on the road of progress. He is also part of IPL governing council. I think he is a man with a vision. He has a vision of taking Mizoram cricket ahead. There are a lot of youngsters coming into the team. They are talented, hard-working and they do have the potential to do well. I believe they are heading in the right direction but it will take time. “
Kohli’s dual role
After having truckloads of experience in the domestic circuit, Kohli actually wants youngsters to exploit his cricketing brain. Not only does he guide Mizoram’s young cricketers, but also runs a cricket academy called “Powerplay Cricket Academy” where he nurtures young talent.

“Since I have a lot of experience, I share some of that with the youngsters. It does help them in grooming themselves. My role is not only contributing with the bat but also guiding the youngsters during net sessions, on and off the field”, he signed off.

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