Yash Dhull has started the new domestic season just like how he finished the last one: with a three-figure score. In March, the 19-year-old batter struck an unbeaten 200 for Delhi in their final Ranji Trophy tie of the 2021/22 season against Chhattisgarh. On Saturday, Dhull—he made his Duleep Trophy debut with North Zone—extended his exemplary start to first-class cricket by hitting 193 off just 243 balls against East Zone in Puducherry. It was his fourth hundred in four first-class matches, having hit a century in both innings on Ranji debut against Tamil Nadu in February.
Dhull has had a rapid rise this year. As India captain for the U-19 World Cup in the Caribbean in January and February, he led the team to a record-extending fifth title beating England in the final. He scored 229 runs in four games, including a run-a-ball 110 in the semi-final against Australia.
His latest ton against a challenging East Zone attack—pacers Ishan Porel and Akash Deep and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem featured—exemplifies his penchant for big scores. A prolific run-getter in age-group cricket, the batter has had a smooth transition to the seniors though he is playing as opener and not at his preferred No 3 slot.
“The challenges (of playing long innings) are many. Staying mentally and physically fresh is important. You have to train and prepare for that. To stand out, you have to make big scores. Almost everyone is making runs. You have to set a standard to get noticed,” Dhull said on Monday. North qualified for the semi-finals on first innings lead.
“From my junior days, my mindset has been kisi aur ke liye taali kyon bajao (why end up clapping for someone else who is batting)? When you can yourself play, make sure everyone is clapping for you. If you get out to a good ball, then it’s fine.”
Dhull particularly enjoyed his battle of nerves with Nadeem, a shrewd bowler with over 450 wickets in first-class cricket. “Shahbaz bhai is a legend in domestic cricket. He looks to toy with a batter’s mind. I was also enjoying the challenge and looking to not make the mistakes he was trying to draw from me. I was sticking to my plan and playing accordingly,” said the youngster, who also hails from west Delhi like Virat Kohli.
That Dhull restrained himself in phases and yet had a strike rate of nearly 80 showed his knack to score at a brisk pace and the maturity to pick the deliveries to get runs off. All four of his hundreds in first-class cricket have come relatively quick.
“Main toh Virat bhaiya ko follow karta hoon (I follow in the footsteps of Kohli). He is aggressive and likes to dominate. Most players from Delhi have this style of batting. We like to dominate. Usse mazaa bhi aata hai (it is also enjoyable),” said Dhull, who attended an emerging players’ camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru in July and August.
The only disappointment perhaps for Dhull this year has been that he didn’t get to play a single game for IPL franchise Delhi Capitals after being picked at his base price of ₹20 lakh. But he cashed in on the opportunity to pick the brains of coach Ricky Ponting and assistant coach Shane Watson.
“IPL was a very positive experience. To fit into that atmosphere can be a little difficult at first because there are many senior internationals. There’s a different confidence you get from interacting with them. It was good that I got to learn from them, which is going to help me in this domestic season,” he added.
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