Consistent Manan gets U-19 call

When the opportunity to improve on last year’s numbers — 290 runs and 12 wickets — came along,Delhi all-rounder Manan Sharma didn’t hesitate in grabbing it with both hands.

Written by Saikat Sarkar | New Delhi | Published:March 14, 2009 12:17 am

When the opportunity to improve on last year’s numbers — 290 runs and 12 wickets — came along,Delhi all-rounder Manan Sharma didn’t hesitate in grabbing it with both hands. This season,the statistics read 380 and 26 respectively,and on Friday,his performance earned him a berth in the national under-19 team slated to tour Australia from April 4-22. If the figures describe consistency,Manan also sits at the top of this season’s run-getters table as compared to a second-spot finish in 2007-08.

The India jersey,however,hasn’t sent the 17-year-old into raptures,there’s simply an element of satisfaction. “I was expecting the call after doing well in the national u-19 tournament. The exposure in the Ranji one-dayers helped too. This is my first chance of representing the country. In that way it’s special,” said Manan.

He top-scored with a brave 43 while opening against Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy among the likes of Aakash Chopra,Mithun Manhas and Virat Kohli,at times even overshadowing them. “For consistency,playing in the Ranji Trophy is more important. With big players,there’s little room for repeating your errors. That makes you consistent,” the class XII student added.

Delhi coach and former India wicketkeeper Vijay Dahiya isn’t lost for words in praising Manan,but identifies the potential. “It’s too early to predict anything. But getting picked for any national team isn’t easy. He has what it takes to be a quality spinner,and he’s a fast learner. He’s certainly ahead for his age,and I wish him all the luck,” said Dahiya. For father Ajay Sharma,former India cricketer and Delhi skipper,his son’s under-19 cap is a continuation of a journey that ended rather prematurely.

“In 2000,when I last led Delhi,I had Aakash (Chopra) and Amit (Bhandari) playing under me. Living in the same apartment complex back in 1991,I remember Aakash running away with Manan in his arms. It’s such a pleasure seeing him play alongside them. In these eight years (2000-08),I’ve worked hard alongside coaches Uday Gupte and Tarak Sinha and honestly,after everything,I don’t feel like missing the game at all. He (Manan) was always there to carry it on,” said Sharma.

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