Accountant Awate, 30, hits century on debut

A 30-year-old accountant making his First-Class debut for Maharashtra was the star of the day in their Group B match against Vidarbha at Nagpur. Virag Awate, who last played for the Maharashtra U-22 team in the Colonel CK Nayudu Trophy nine years ago, scored an unbeaten 111 in a total of 227 for the loss of three wickets.

Awate had represented Maharashtra in the Under-19 and Under-22 age groups but had not played a Ranji Trophy game till Saturday. There years ago, fearing that his cricket career wasn't heading anywhere, he joined a construction company as an accountant. He kept in touch with the sport by playing corporate tournaments and this year proved to be a breakout one for him after he hit over 1,000 runs in the Maharashtra Cricket Association's invitational league.

"The company I work for has always given me time to practice and play matches," said Awate. " They also gave me leave as long as I was part of the senior Maharashtra team," he said.

Awate replaced Nikhil Paradkar, who was dropped due to poor form. Awate said that he was happy to have proved himself when it mattered. "All these years, I always kept myself ready hoping to get a chance to play but I was never selected. After scoring runs in the invitational league I had told myself that if I get a chance to play for Maharashtra then I will make it count," he said.

Awate opened the innings on a wicket which slowed down as the day progressed. "The ball wasn't coming onto the bat so I couldn't play aggressively. I had to wait for the lose ball and try and score off them," he said.

After getting picked to the probables, Awate made sure that the selectors had no choice but to pick him. "I scored two hundreds and a fifty in three innings during practice games. I hope my debut hundred is the first of many such knocks" he added.

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