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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Mahipal Lomror aces 'weird' role of Impact Player

Mahipal Lomror aces 'weird' role of Impact Player

Source: PTI
March 26, 2024 11:56 IST
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IMAGE: Mahipal Lomror donned the finisher’s role along side Dinesh Karthik in RCB’s first home game of the IPL 2024 season. Photograph: BCCI

On a balmy Monday night, Mahipal Lomror gave Royal Challengers Bengaluru two tantalising options – an ‘Impact Player' who can yank the match away from the opposition and a potential successor to Dinesh Karthik, their designated finisher who is playing his last IPL season.

Lomror, who replaced Yash Dayal during the chase of 177 as Impact sub, made an eight-ball 17 and assisted Karthik (28, 10b) in knocking off 47 runs in 22 balls that powered RCB to a four-wicket win over Punjab Kings.

 

But his maiden foray into the world of ‘Impact Players' taught Lomror how “weird” that role could be, particularly because of its hurried nature.

“To be honest, it (being an Impact Player) was quite weird when I went into bat. The Impact Player rule is such that you have to be ready as you can get a call at any time to go in,” said Lomror in the post-match press conference.

However, the 24-year-old said the RCB management had communicated the possibility of him being used as the substitute player against Punjab.

“As the name suggests, you have to make an impact on the game from the word go. The management had discussed it last night. They told me: ‘If we are chasing, we might use you down the order.' So mentally, I was prepared.”

During the IPL 2023, RCB had availed the ‘Impact Player' option in 12 matches out of 14, and Anuj Rawat came in twice as the No. 8 finisher, similar to what Lomror did against PBKS at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

On the other 10 occasions, it was either a bowler or a top/middle-order batter who walked in as ‘Impact Player.'

However, Rawat could not make the desired impact as he could score only 16 runs off 27 balls in those two games.

Perhaps, that failed experiment prompted the RCB thinktank to give that duty to the big-hitting Lomror in this IPL.

The Rajasthan-born player, who joined Royal Challengers ahead of IPL 2022 from Rajasthan Royals, was ready for the grind too as it was his best chance to get a place in the eleven.

“This is what the team management wants me to prepare for. They are very clear because we have a really strong batting lineup, and this is the only place where they can use me,” he said.

Lomror has been quietly upskilling himself at nets once the RCB top brass conveyed their decision.

“Earlier, I used to bat up the order, and that gave me more balls to bat. But now as an Impact sub, there's not going to be many balls to play. So, whenever I'm going into nets, I just try and hit boundaries from the very first ball,” he offered.

But polishing the skills against your own teammates or local trundlers at nets is quite different from what a batter gets in a real match situation.

Lomror, though, aced the test against proven performers like Arshdeep Singh and Sam Curran at a stadium with an unusually gripping pitch that made shot-making a tricky proposition.

He, however, reduced the equation to 43 off 21 balls and thereby the pressure on Karthik too with a first-ball boundary off left-arm pacer Curran.

But Lomror soon bettered that effort against Arshdeep. On the third ball of the 18th over, he smoked the left-arm quick over the cow-corner for a six and in the next ball pulled him for a four through backward square leg.

That over had started with RCB needing 36 runs from 18 balls and three balls later it became a more comfortable 24 runs from 14 balls.

Lomror was not hesitant to give a slice of credit to his senior partner Karthik for keeping his pulse against racing.

"I think batting with him makes things really easy. He has some 15-17 years of experience in IPL. He was telling me to stay calm and focus on the next ball, not to get overexcited or not to get too aggressive," he said.

The apprentice has certainly left the master a beaming man.

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