Vijay Hazare Trophy: Himmat Singh rises from shadow of the stars


Himmat Singh stroked an unbeaten 74 in Delhi’s thumping five-wicket win over Saurashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Shared News | New Delhi | Updated: September 21, 2018 9:32:52 am

Back in 2012, Himmat Singh was billed as the next big thing in junior cricket, scorching his way through junior-age group cricket and peeling off humongous three-digit scores with ease. His irresistible consistency levels drew comparisons with his Delhi senior, the U-19 World Cup winning captain Unmukt Chand. But Himmat failed to follow Unmukt’s footsteps. In fact, it was his fellow trainee at the capital’s assembly line – the Tarak Sinha academy – who first got the national call-up. Rishabh Pant not just made it to the India u-19 team but also graudated to the senior squad.

On a warm Wednesday afternoon at Feroz Shah Kotla, Himmat finally got his chance to upstage both Chand and Pant, as he stroked an unbeaten 74 in Delhi’s thumping five-wicket win over Saurashtra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. Delhi, in pursuit of 238, lost both Chand and Pant cheaply, and were in a spot of bother at 4/105, when Himmat began the repair work. He was involved in two defining partnerships — 47 runs for the fifth wicket with Manan Sharma followed by an unbeaten 86-run stand with Lalit Yadav — which took the hosts past the finish line with four overs to spare.

This knock is expected to put Himmat in a confident frame of mind for the rigours of the upcoming season. But coach Sinha is quick to point out that despite his blazing start in junior cricket, the reason for his delay in graduating to the next level was not because he lacked the skill, but because there was no spot vacant in the Delhi team. “Since his U-16 days, I have always believed that he was a gifted player. After a promising start, it was plain bad luck that he took time to graduate to the next level. Competition within the Delhi team was intense. When he was scoring runs in junior cricket, the team already had players such as Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Rajat Bhatia. There was no spot for him, since he was essentially a middle-order batsman,” Sinha explains.

To be fair, Himmat did not experience a spectacular dip in batting form. In fact, he did make the best use of whatever scarce opportunity he got. What left him gutted was the U-19 World Cup snub in 2016. Prior to that, he had everything going for him. He had made his List-A debut, following his 181 against Tripura at the Cooch Behar Trophy. He captained Delhi at the U-19 level too. Not surprisingly, when his name was missing from the list of 15 players to board the plane to Dhaka two years ago, Himmat’s confidence took a beating.

Being patient

“He badly wanted to play the U-19 World Cup. That did dent his confidence somewhat. It was perhaps the lowest phase in his professional life so far.” Even during that lowest ebb, Sinha’s only advice to Himmat was: ‘Be patient’. Things turned ugly for the 20-year-old later that year when it was alleged that his father Veer paid Rs 25 lakh to get his son picked for the Delhi’s Vijay Hazare Trophy squad. Veer lodged a defamation case saying that charges against him were levied with ‘malafide intention’.

Ahead of the 2017 season, Himmat was drafted in Delhi’s U-23 squad. Runs flowed again and Himmat made his much-awaited Ranji debut against the Railways. “I think the team management was left with little choice by to select him, because he was in form,” Sinha explains. Like Himmat, Chand’s career had plateaued for sometime now, especially after expectations from him had hit the roof after his U-19 World Cup win. The axe finally fell on the opener in the 2017 season. Back in the fold now, he and Himmat will be keen to make it count this season.

Sinha is confident that things will fall in place for his ward. “When he was younger, there was this weight of expectations on his shoulders. He does not have that pressure now. If he can play with a free mind, he will make it big this season,” he concludes.

Brief Scores: Delhi 238/5 in 46 overs (Himmat Singh 74) defeat Saurashtra 237 in 49.3 overs (Sheldon Jackson 62) by 5 wickets.