Alur: For a 19-year-old, India's junior team captain and Maharashtra Ranji player Vijay Zol comes across as a much matured and level-headed cricketer than most of his counterparts. While talking to the likes of Jasprit Bumrah or Sandeep Sharma there is an unguarded straightforwardness and visible excitement that influences everybody around them, but not with Zol.
Zol has been at the centre of attention from an early age right from scoring a mammoth 451 as a 17-year-old to being India captain for the 2014 Under-19 World Cup and he knows how to deal with such situations, similar to how he explains his cricket.
Hailing from the small town of Jalna in Maharashtra, Zol shot to fame in 2011 when he compiled 451 in 467 balls in the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy against Assam. Talking about that innings, Zol says that even though the knock got him noticed, it is a thing of past. "I got the confidence to score runs after that knock and I have scored lot of runs since then," he told gocricket.com during the ongoing U-23 BCCI camp which he is a part of at Alur, Karnataka.
The month long camp gets together the brightest prospects of Indian cricket and for some it acts as a preparatory camp ahead of the tour to Australia as the part of India A squad. But for others like Zol, it is an opportunity to improve on their skills and also look back on things that they could have done better in the last season.
"It is a routine camp, obviously for the India A guys they are looking to prepare themselves for the tour, but it is a routine camp. Personally, it is a couple of things that I am trying to get right, most of it is like trying to stick to my basics," he says.
After leading the India U-19 team to numerous series victories abroad last year, Zol made a stellar Ranji Trophy debut by scoring a double-hundred for Maharashtra and went on to score 553 runs at an average of 46.08 last season. A quiet IPL followed and his non-selection in the India A squads seemed to have pushed the left-hander down the totem pole, but he is unfazed.
"I would love to have been a part of the India A tour but I am not worried. I could have done better this Ranji season that is what I feel," says Zol. "The Ranji season was good, I got a double-hundred against Tripura and followed it up with some good scores for the team. And also with the team going to the final, it was a good to be a part of the team. The IPL on the other hand was not that great. I didn't do that good, got just three games and got starts which I could not convert it."
Discussing more on his IPL stint with Royal Challengers Bangalore, Zol says he knew how tough it would be to get into the playing XI and that he treated his stint more as a learning curve. "It is star-studded team and I knew the top order is full of big names, so interacting with them and sharing experiences with the team was the thing I was looking for," he says. "I learned a lot of things just being the part of the team. Many small things that matter like lots of intensity, the aggression the big players have during the games, the kind of practices they do, the mentally they have and how they deal with different situations."
It sure is a learning process for the youngster at this stage of his career and he is focused to proving his mettle in all three formats and to improve in each game he plays. "I tried to give my 100 per cent in all the three formats. I enjoy all three formats, have scored in all the three formats and that is the challenge; to get settled in all the formats and that is one thing that makes you stand out than the rest," says Zol.
"There is obviously room for improvement in all three formats, you need to improve all the time, you are not the best in the business so we have to improve all the time. Also, as you play a higher level of cricket the margin of error also goes down and you have to be on your toes all the time and I try to do that."