Not many knew who Shivam Mavi was before he made the world sit up and take notice during the ICC U19 World Cup 2018 in New Zealand. Mavi, along with Kamlesh Nagarkoti, has topped the speed gun in the tournament, often touching high 140 kmph.
This has made Mavi one of the most touted future prospects for India and someone who will be one of the main attractions in the upcoming IPL auctions. Wisden India caught up with Shivam Mavi, who is waiting for the quarter final clash with Bangladesh on January 26.
Wisden India talked with Mavi about his idol, how he got into cricket and how he feels about terrorizing the batsmen with his pace.
“When I started off, I used to just bat while playing gully-cricket,” Mavi reveals in a freewheeling chat on the sidelines of India’s training session ahead of the quarterfinal clash against Bangladesh. “Then, when I was once randomly bowling at the nets in Noida, my coach (Phoolchand Sharma) said ‘Start bowling from now on’. I took his advice and started bowling, and almost immediately started liking it. Seeing that, he suggested that I become a bowling allrounder, and I thought why not, that sounds like a good option.”
Mavi was coached by Phoolchand in the Delhi Wanderers Cricket Club and Phoolchand reminisced about Mavi in conversation with Wisden India.
“He was always very dedicated to his cricket,” Phoolchand recollects in a chat with Wisden India. “People of his age have interests in going out with friends, spending time in the malls etc, but he was completely dedicated to cricket. When he was injured, doctors asked him to take rest, but he used to come to the academy and sit around here. He used to do nothing but watch others train. He could easily have been sitting at home watching movies or something, but he liked spending time around cricket.”
Mavi explains, “When you are injured and sitting at home, it can be extremely frustrating. I kept thinking, ‘Damn, I was playing regularly, and suddenly now, my future in cricket is uncertain’. So I worked really hard on my strength training, and cleared my mind of all the distractions to make a comeback.”
He continued, “I used to be an outswing specialist, but after returning from the injury, I became an inswing bowler. My body started falling a bit to one side, so I started working on making the ball come in and it worked out well for me.”
Talking about his new found fame, Mavi says, “I don’t think about all that much,”
Mavi insists, “Rahul (Dravid) sir says don’t get carried away. He says stay focussed and just bowl. As far as the yorkers are concerned, the more you practice, the better it comes off in the match. Paras (Mhambrey, the bowling coach) sir helps me a lot with that. We plan by watching videos of batsmen in the opposition and plan accordingly.”
Lalchand Rajput, one time Afghanistan coach, had called Mavi up to bowl to the Afghan senior team batsmen like Asghar Stanikzai, Mohammad Shahzad and Mohammad Nabi in nets in Noida.
“Delhi has a lot of good players, and the wickets there are pretty flat,” Mavi explains. “I have played there enough to not be too worried about bowling at strong batsmen. I found bowling to certain batsmen from Delhi harder than bowling to the Afghanistan batsmen. Bowling in Delhi prepares you very well, so when I bowled against the Afghans, even though I initially felt that these were international players, later on I really didn’t feel too different.”
If India beat Bangladesh and reach semi-finals; it could very well be an Pakistan-India semifinals in the U19 World Cup.
“I wasn’t there for the Asia Cup, so I haven’t played against Pakistan yet, which is always a special thrill to look forward to,” says Mavi. “My parents and my coach, they wake up early in the morning to watch me play on TV. They tell me you are doing very well, you are playing for India, so keep doing well and do not get distracted by anything. I just keep trying to do that, and hope to make them proud.”