Ajay Rohera's 267* is the highest individual score on Ranji Trophy and First-Class debut. (Image credit: Twitter)
For 24 years, Amol Muzumdar had held the world record for the highest score on First-Class debut when he smashed 260 for Mumbai against Haryana in 1994. On December 8, 2018, the record was shattered in grand style by 21-year-old Ajay Rohera of Madhya Pradesh in their Ranji Trophy encounter against Hyderabad at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. Rohera’s world record knock of 267* gave Madhya Pradesh a massive lead and Avesh Khan’s 12 wickets in the match handed Madhya Pradesh a brilliant innings and 253-run victory. The fact that it has taken 24 years for this record to be broken speaks volumes about Rohera’s knock. Speaking exclusively to News Nation after steering his team towards a massive win, the Dewas youngster looked completely overwhelmed at the occasion.
“When my name was announced, I said, ‘Bas, bahut ho gaya (Enough of waiting)’ to myself. Now is the time that I must play well. I did not want to think much. It is not that I had do something differently when selected for the Ranji Trophy side. I primarily wanted to focus on my strengths,” Rohera said.
When Hyderabad were bowled out for 124, Rohera was getting ready to come out in a Ranji game for the first time. While entering the outfield, he remembered his Dad’s word which were “Enjoy your day, enjoy your debut. Keep doing what you do the best.” And enjoy he did. Over the next two days, Rohera displayed his class and tore the Hyderabad bowlers apart. After the end of day 2, he was unbeaten on 255 and was on the cusp of history.
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It is apt that several cricketing records have been made in Madhya Pradesh. The first double ton in ODIs came from Sachin Tendulkar in 2010 in Gwalior while Virender Sehwag also smashed 219 against West Indies in Indore in 2011. Rohera described the swirl of emotions going through his mind on day 3 and a potential slice of history.
“When I was on 255 on the second day, I was told that I was on the cusp of breaking the record. I could not sleep the full night,” Rohera said with excitement. On day 3, Rohera entered the record books and Muzumdar’s record was broken. The youngster finished unbeaten on 267, the highest individual score in Ranji Trophy for Madhya Pradesh beating Jai Prakash Yadav’s 265 against Railways in 1999. However, the youngster said he never dreamt about this moment.
“I never felt that I could make a record. I just wanted to play and I never had any particular goal or record which I wanted to achieve,” Rohera said with calmness.
Challenges have begun now
Rohera’s success is just reward for patience and performing when it mattered the most. He was in prime form for the Madhya Pradesh U-23 side and had recently made his debut in the Vijay Hazare trophy. He was included in the Ranji squad last season but did not get a game. Abbas Ali, the manager cum fielding coach of the team, was impressed by the way Rohera grabbed the opportunity.
“Last year, while playing for the U-23 side, he was in great form. He is a very hard-working, energetic. From last year, he has been doing well. The way he has made an impact is sensational. To have created a world record and the fact he has grabbed his opportunities so soon makes him very special,” Ali said.
However, Ali is quick to point out that with the world record, the challenges have begun now. “The career has started and every match from now on is a challenge. He has to perform on a consistent basis,” Ali said.
Even Rohera is not looking too much ahead of the future. “I just want to enjoy this moment. I am not going to think too far into the future,” the youngster said.
Dewas, which is 35 kms away from Ujjain, is known for its wind mills. Now, the city will be associated with a youngster who shattered a cricketing world record.