When 14-year-old all-rounder Prashant Vashisht measures his run-up,there is a change in name-call that his teammates bestow upon him.From ‘Shabash Prashant,’ the bowler is,from then on,cheered as ‘Jaddu’ till the time he finishes his quota of overs. It is not only because he bats and bowls left handed,like India’s Test No. 7 Ravindra Jadeja,but also because he strangles the batsmen during the middle overs. Prashant does exactly the same for the Salwan Boys School. Currently,he is excelling in the role of a batsman though,with his record so far in the Coca-Cola Cup inter-school tournament making him a contender for winning the best batsman award.
While Prashant is more or less assured of the prize,his team is yet to win the trophy,having to play the final against CAV inter college,UP,scheduled today. With the small finger of his left hand still recovering from a fracture,Prashant made sure that his role as a batsman did not suffer. In the four matches so far,he has made an unbeaten century and two half centuries.
“Although I would have loved to bowl,my finger is still on the recovery. So I am concentrating more on my batting. As this finger is not used much in batting,it is posing no problems while weilding the bat,but while I am fielding,I cover it properly,” says Prashant.
The youngster picked up his finger injury while fielding in a match against a touring Nepal squad a few months back at the Bharat Nagar ground. The consequences were that he was cut-off for close to 45 days from cricket. But as he recovered and the finger started to gain strength,and he was back on the field with a bang.
In the tournament organised by DDCA,in the five matches he played,he ensured his all-round performance was in working order by scoring three half centuries and picking up 13 wickets.
It has been five years since he took to the sport professionally. In all,his notable achievement has been the award he won for his bowling in the U-14 School Nationals held in Mumbai back in 2010. Prashant scalped 11 in five matches and helped Delhi lift the title.
“I have only played the school nationals once but all these years I regularly play the DDCA U-14 state trials. Last year,I played three matches and scored 50*,37 and 33. I couldn’t bowl because my finger was still recovering and I didn’t want to rush back to bowling. But thankfully,I am doing well now and hope that I continue my performance in the final too,” he says.
Son of a DTC bus conductor,Prashant,despite his talent,struggles to get the equipment he wants. With no sponsors coming to his rescue so far,shelling out money for his gear is a problem for his father,the sole-earner in the family.
“My father has told me to keep playing well and work hard so that my dream to come true. He has supported me since I first picked up the sport and still backs me for everything I need,” says Prashant.
While he is better known as Jaddu in his team,but he is close to his roots when it comes to following a batsman. Gautam Gambhir,recalls Prashant,is the batsman he comes closest to. And why not,if you see your idol batting in front of your own eyes. If you can get your tips from the same coach (Sanjay Bhardwaj) too,perhaps the reason is justified.