His world-first 300 run knock in a Twenty20 match at a suburban Delhi cricket ground has become a global sensation, but Mohit Ahlawat is still a little bemused by the attention. It isn’t the first record-breaking score the 21-year-old has posted in the game’s shortest form.
“In the last tournament I played in the Delhi district league I scored 224 not out,” he says. In another recent tournament, in Ghaziabad, he posted a casual 139.
The first of those easily eclipses the current professional record of 175 not out, scored by the West Indies’ Chris Gayle in an Indian Premier League match in Bangalore in 2013.
Hitting mammoth scores – on Tuesday, 300 runs off just 72 balls, including an astonishing 39 sixes – has become routine for the student from Panipat, a rural district of Haryana state about 85km (53 miles) north of Delhi.
“I didn’t think I’d get so much media coverage,” he says. “It feels great, all the news channels have come to the ground to interview me.”
The softly spoken batsman and wicketkeeper says his secret is quickly finding his flow. “I wasn’t nervous,” he says, entering the final over on 266 runs, seeing a triple century in sight.
“I was just cool,” he says with a laugh. “I thought I could do it. I told myself:just try to hit it on time. I try to enjoy my batting, try not to think too much.”
The scorecard tells the tale of that final over: 4, 6, 6, 6, 6, 6. The ground in East Delhi is particularly small, but this time his total was enough to put Ahlawat on the radar of the Delhi Daredevils, the Indian Premier League side that called him up for a trial on Wednesday after news of the knock spread.
Should he be selected in forthcoming player auctions, Ahlawat will be playing on pitches and in front of crowds a universe away from the patches of grass in Panipat where, growing up, he and his friends would play cricket each Sunday.
“It wasn’t a cricket ground,” he says. “But every Sunday the kids used to call me to play, and my father bought me a cricket kit, so I started playing with that.”
People in the town noticed his talent. “Everyone used to say I was quite a good player, that I played a bit differently,” he says, but his big-swinging style also needed tempering before he could face better quality bowlers.
“When I was a kid, I didn’t really know how to hit the ball in the right way. I’d get out a lot,” he says. Like so many young Indians in the rapidly urbanising country, at 17, Ahlawat moved to the city chasing bigger opportunities.
“My father told me it was better I go and join a club in Delhi, that I won’t be able get anywhere in cricket from Panipat,” he says.
Alongside his studies at Delhi University, he joined one of the city’s most esteemed cricket clubs, the LB Shastri Cricket Academy. There he was coached by Sanjay Bhardwaj, who also oversaw the international career of former Indian opener Gautam Gambhir.
Bhardwaj told Indian media he was delighted by Ahlawat’s
achievement. “He hasn’t had anything easy in life. He is a farmer’s son and has had to struggle to follow his dream of playing cricket,” he said.
“I am very happy that the Daredevils took note of his knock and called him for trial.”
Ahlawat is facing his sudden surge of fame the same way he does bowlers: coolly, focusing on one ball at a time. “I haven’t really thought about the future,” he says.
“Last year I was dropped from the Delhi team for the Ranjit Trophy after only three matches. I was lacking confidence. Maybe now they will consider me again. ´´
Delhi Ranji teamâ€™s wicketkeeper batsman, Mohit Ahlawat who made a world record triple-century in a local T20 tournament on Sunday, said that former Indian captain MS Dhoni is his role model while speaking to the news agency ANI. The 21-year-old opening batsman said that he also loves the batting of South African captain AB De Villiers and often tries to copy him but he is too good to be replicated.
“I do try to copy AB De Villiers, but naturally one can’t. MS Dhoni is also my role model,” said Ahlawat. He also said that he didn’t do anything different during his knock and played his natural game. Ahlawat’s 300 runs in the Friends Premier League is now the highest recognised individual score in T20 cricket at any level.
He said, “I did not play any different or extraordinary shots, I played my natural game.” Ahlawat played this knock at national capital’s Lalita Park playing for his team Maavi XI against Friends XI. His 72 deliveries knock included 14 fours and 39 sixes. At the end of the 18th over, Ahlawat was batting on 250 runs but managed to score 50 runs from the final two overs, with 34 runs coming from the final over.
Ahlawat who hails from Panipat, made his Ranji debut for the Delhi side against Rajasthan in 2015 but was dropped from the team as managed to score just 5 runs from his 3 firstclass matches. However, his triple ton was enough to get the attention of IPL franchises ahead of the 2017 auction and it was reported that Delhi Daredevils side mentored by Rahul Dravid have asked him to give a trial.
Ahlawat’s opening partner, Gaurav also scored 86 runs off 39 balls. A couple of years ago, 15-year-old Pranav Dhanawade scored 1000 runs in just 323 balls for KC Gandhi School against Arya Gurukul School at a tournament in Mumbai. This is the highest recognised individual score in any format of the game.