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Hercules Champions
Dinesh Mongia: On the brink of a decisive break

Dinesh Mongia's spectacular burst of rungetting in the Duleep Trophy has added a compelling sense of authority to the elegant lefthander's claims for recognition on a grander scale. After two double tons in the competition, stacked up alongside a triple against Jammu & Kashmir earlier in the season, Mongia virtually commanded a place amongst the 25 probables for the series against Australia.

But he is not a stranger to appearing in the national colours. Back in April 1996, Mongia was part of the India Under-19s who took on their South African counterparts at home. Two months earlier he had made a virtually anonymous Ranji Trophy debut in the pre-quarters against Baroda where Punjab were eliminated from the competition. Then came the break in the first Test against the Proteas. On a green top in Mohali, against bowlers like Nantie Hayward and Makhaya Ntini, he played a glorious hand of 103 to announce himself as a class performer to the country at large.

In his first full Ranji season in 1996-97, Mongia cracked a ton against Himachal Pradesh in only his third first class game and followed up with an unbeaten 207 against the Services. Even though he amassed 768 runs in the 1999-2000 Ranji Trophy at over 57 apiece, his name barely figured in the selectoral mindset. By the look of things he was clearly building himself up for something big and true to bear, the gateway that had been hitherto barred to him opened up under an avalanche of runs this season. Mongia has been helped along by being part of a victorious team which has swept everything before it this season, for nothing is more frustrating to a good player than finding himself at the wrong end of success.

The impetus for Mongia's thrust, of course, is his well documented liking for tall scores. Grand gestures like doubles or triples portray the image of a man who puts a very steep price on his wicket. But the runs all came in quick time for he's always been an attractive strokemaker. Adventurous, yes, but not reckless enough to be carried away by his own brilliance. A decent enough left arm orthodox spinner who has been starved of bowling opportunities all season, Mongia stands at the brink of a decisive break in a rapidly burgeoning career.

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Dinesh Mongia
Dinesh Mongia

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