Maharashtra’s loss is Madhya Pradesh’s gain

Udit Birla who started his cricket in Pune and plays for MP now gets IPL opportunity.

Playing only the fourth Ranji Trophy match of his career Udit Birla walked in to bat when Madhya Pradesh had suffered a minor collapse. Chasing 300 on a tricky Indore pitch, Madhya Pradesh's Naman Ojha and captain Devendra Bundela had given the home side a good start but both were dismissed in quick succession, and another batsman fell shortly.

The 23-year-old Birla weathered a spell of hostile bowling and some old-school intimidation tactics from the Delhi side who smelt an unlikely victory. However, Birla held firm. He was resolute in defense and rotated the strike intelligently. He remained unbeaten on 49 as he took his side to victory in company of his good friend Ishwar Pandey.

"After that knock, I really believed I could hold my own against top First Class teams. I faced some good bowlers but I was confident of my abilities and more importantly, I was satisfied that I delivered when my team needed it the most," he says. Incidentally, Birla had steered his side to victory in the preceding match against Gujarat, compiling a sedate 52 in another potentially tricky second-innings chase.

Since then, Birla has been progressing in leaps and bounds. Last month, the right-hander was signed by the Pune Warriors for IPL. "It's obviously a great step for me to get an IPL contract. The Warriors have some truly great players and I am looking forward to interacting with players like Yuvraj Singh and Michael Clarke and learn from their experiences," he says.

He has a strong Pune connection. Birla played for the Maharashtra u-15 side and captained the u-19 team before switching to MP. "I started playing serious cricket when I joined The Bishops School in eighth standard. I gradually progressed through the ranks, moving to MP a few years later but it was in Pune that it all really started," he said. He moved to MP, his native state after his father decided his son would have better prospects there.

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