Shah lords over Bengal

On first impression, Hiken Shah's batting will not seem particularly appealing to a layman's eyes. He seldom looks graceful in his strokes, and when he drives, the laboured effort is much more than what might be seen in others who ooze fluency.

At the moment though, Shah's style hardly matters. For he's scoring runs by the buckets in Ranji Trophy, and his form shows no signs of tapering off. After missing against Bengal in the first innings, Shah returned strongly to slam his third century of the season from four Ranji innings.

If his run-glut from the Safi Darashah tournament played in Mysore few months ago is to be counted in, then his tally of centuries stretches to six from eight innings for Mumbai.

Shah is happy, delighted even, but isn't exactly going ga-ga over his success so far. For him, it was simply an important innings for Mumbai as his century alongwith Abhishek Nayar's unbeaten 73 gave Bengal a stiff target of 391 runs to chase on a tough Brabourne Stadium track.

As he packed his bags to return home after two seasons with Jammu and Kashmir, Hiken Shah must have wondered about where his cricket career was heading. For starters, if there was a future at all.

Hiken had been forced to look for options away from home after being snubbed by the Mumbai team earlier. J&K provided him with more opportunities but unfortunately the diminutive left-hander couldn't make the most of them, averaging just 34.57 in four matches without scoring a century.

Shah remembers those days and admits that in hindsight if these performances had come a few years ago, then things could have been different. He landed to play in England's second warm-up game of the tour, and finished with 92 runs at the DY Patil Stadium.

... contd.

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