Shivam Mavi may not appear as a pace bowler by stereotypes, but this 5’-9” tall man does not lack skills of a dedicated pacer.
This youngster told with an elegant smile,” I once hit the batsman on the helmet and the guys who followed were really scared. I was enjoying it.”
He added, “If I get hit for back to back boundaries I can get very angry, but I have slowly learned that next ball, I use my head a little more not just aggression.”
It’s not a wonder if this pacer’s role model is Dale Steyn. He said,”I love watching Dale Steyn, more than his bowling the way he stares at the batsmen, I like that aggression-you need it as a fast bowler.”
Shivam would not be one of the assets to team India if he was not able to get his guidance from the childhood coach, Phoolchand Sharma. “When I started off playing gully cricket I used to just bat.Then when I was bowling randomly once in a while, sir saw me and told me to start bowling and I ever since I have liked it.”
Phoolchand recalled about their first meeting, when Mavi’s father brought him as a nine-year-old boy,”He told me I’m a batsman, but the minute Isaw him bowl I immediately told him that he must pursue fast bowling.”
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“He had such a lovely rhythmical run-up, you don’t see smooth approach from nine-year-olds.Plus he was very aggressive. We could tell from the very early age that he had fast bowling persona.”
Mavi’s father Pankaj decided to shift their family from their village Sina to Noida for better education for Shivam but the family noticed that he was made for playing cricket at a very tender age.
By the time he was 14, Mavi started spending more time in Noida Wanderers cricket club than at home and school. Before his 15th birthday, he was allowed to play against grown men due to his rigorous performance. His quickness forced him to it.
Phoolchand recalled,”He was too good was his age group, so I made him play in the hot weather tournament against men. Lots of Delhi first-class cricketers play in that match, so I thought let’s throw them in the deep end.”
According to his coach, Mavi played non-stop cricket for two months during summer holidays and traveled across grounds around Delhi to play T20 matches but never expressed any fatigue. He added, Mavi used to say,”Sir me khelunga, aap sirf batao kaha aur kitne baje sir.”(Sir I will play, you just tell me where and what time) , he recollected those days.
He got a shocking experience of eviction from under-16 team. He was upset by the politics in the selection team though he performed well since last four years. Speaking about this decision he said,”I played Under-14 for Delhi, then for Under-16 I did well but I did not get a chance. There is a bit of politics in cricket everywhere, so I decided to move for Uttar Pradesh.” He added,”I have been playing regularly for the last four years and performing well.”
He had to be out of the game for three months when he was playing for Uttar Pradesh due to a terrific injury to his knee.”Sitting at home is extremely frustrating. You feel like I was playing regularly, and suddenly there was a stop. So I worked on my strength training, and cleared my mind all of the distractions.”
The injury may have an impact on his pace. He said about the injury,” I had an injury on the left landing foot of the ACL. Before the injury, I used to be an out-swing specialist, but then I became an in-swing bowler. My body started falling a bit towards one side, so I started working on that and I worked on inswing. If I didn’t have that injury I could easily have bowled around 147-148 kph.”
Though he is aware of applauding by senior players like Ganguly on his performance in the World cup and he could be auctioned for a huge amount for the current IPL season by a popular franchise, he is still humble.
He said,”I don’t think about all that much. Rahul sir says don’t get carried away. He has told me to stay focussed and just concentrate on bowling.”
Shivam adds,”I’ve been playing against grown men since14-15, so I understand the expectations that come along with good performances.”
Before turning 19 last month, he faced a lot of ups and downs in his career. The most important thing is, he had the great qualities of a fast bowler by nature. He is the most exciting fast bowler, the Indian team is awaiting.