This one’s for keeps

Himachal Pradesh wicketkeeper batsman Ankush Bains,17,makes India U-19 squad

Written by Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: June 23, 2013 3:33:27 am

Wicket-keeper batsman Ankush Bains had a lucky birthday last December. On December 16,the day he turned 17,he made it to the T20 side of Himachal Pradesh. His dad gifted him a sedan which he promised once Ankush played senior cricket. The year also saw him scoring heavily for the state in the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy (450 runs in 4 matches,17 dismissals) with his performances finally earning him an India U-19 spot,and is now scheduled to fly Australia for a tri-series next month.

“Obviously I am excited to be part of the team but at the same time there is also a huge responsibility on me to justify my selection. I just want to remain focused and hope I perform really well in Australia against the hosts and New Zealand,” says Ankush speaking to Sportline from NCA at Bangalore. While Rajasthan Royals young player and Kerala wicket-keeper batsman Sanju Samson also features in the final squad and will likely bet the first choice keeper,Ankush says he will have to make the most of the opportunity. “Since I am also the only player representing North Zone,I need to be consistent if I get a chance. Earlier boys from Punjab or Haryana made the cut but now I am the one from Himachal,so I need to continue my form. But most probably I will be given a match or two because I am an opener as well,” says Ankush who although a Rohini native plays for Una district in Himachal Pradesh.

The seventeen-year-old,who has played five T20 games for HP averaging a shade over 30 (30.5),says that keeping in mind the Australian conditions,the players are being given special training at the NCA. “We are regularly playing bowling machines,getting throw downs and playing practice games on bouncy wickets in Bangalore. We have played two matches already and further scheduled to play two more before we fly to Australia on June 28,” he says. Not only is he being trained by specialist coaches at NCA,his state coach — Rajdeep Kalsi also phoned him to lend him some valuable tips. “Kalsi Sir called me to congratulate me for my achievement and said that I should stick to my natural game,” adds Ankush who has represented Himachal U-16 four times and has completed two years in the U-19 level.

Ankush says that although he doesn’t get time to visit his parents in Delhi,even when he does,his father Kartar Singh makes sure he doesn’t miss practice even for a day. “That is the time when I am on a vacation because all the year around I am playing cricket in Himachal. So when I come to my parents in Delhi,they just want me to practice. My father takes me to my school ground in Rohini at five in the morning and helps by giving me some catch practice. Then he would throw down balls so that I can get some knocking done. In the evening I go to my coach Shravan Kumar Sir at the Rohtak Road Gymkhana Academy. He provides me net practice and then helps me out to iron flaws in my wicket-keeping,” Ankush says. He says that despite the fact that his two elder sisters are studious,his parents always wanted to see him become a cricketer.

And while it seems strange that Ankush despite being from Delhi is achieving his success from a different state,he says he had indeed played qualifying matches for the Delhi U-13 squad. “He scored two knocks of 80 runs each in the camp but even then he wasn’t picked in the U-13. Then I thought why not send Ankush to play for Himachal as he is originally from there. That clicked for us and he is being consistently playing since he was thirteen,” says Rohtak Road Gymkhana coach Sharavan Kumar.

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