January 14, 2009 11:43:39 pm
He has a beaten black and blue look in his school uniform,and while the pressures of studying can be energy sapping for a fifth standard student,Ekansh Dobal has suddenly been burdened with expectations heavier than hard-bound NCERT textbooks.
At 9,Ekansh is Delhis youngest cricket centurion. The hard-hitting left-hander,who hit 124 off 77 balls with 18 fours and 4 sixes in an under-13 tournament,believes its his first step forward. On television,when a batsman scores a hundred,removes his helmet and raises his bat,everyone stands up and applauds. I had always wanted to feel that experience but I would always get out early.
In this match,I decided to get to my half-century and see how much further I could go. The bowling,to be honest,wasnt exceptional and I realised this could be my chance because the ground was small,particularly from one side. I am glad I could score a century,its a very special feeling,and being your first makes it even more unforgettable, he says.
Ekansh is proud of his new-found status and loves to flaunt it. I know I am the youngest to score a century. I was also the youngest to take up cricket coaching when I registered with Sonnet club ( he started at 5), he says.
The interest is understandable. He has grown up watching his dad,former Delhi cricketer and a NCA Level II coach Sanjay Dobal,and elder brother Siddhant leave everyday with kitbags and has been a silent witness to cricketing discussions at dinner. Ekansh is an active participant now,and the sibling rivalry is just beginning to surface.
Siddhant and I compete a lot against each other,compare how we both fared in our respective matches and often discuss the other persons weaknesses, he says.
A student of Hope Hall Foundation,Ekansh doesnt have a school team to show off his talent but admits impressing his friends with his knowledge of the game. We discuss Yuvraj Singh a lot,hes our favourite player. I idolise him because he hits amazing shots and I am also a left-hander like him. I try and copy all his shots,first in my room and then in the nets, he says.
And so the pull and the front-foot punch are Ekanshs favourite shots; that he plays with tailor-made Yuvi T20 series bats is no coincidence either. Ekanksh would have been a complete Yuvraj package but his dadis insistence made him into a right-arm off-spinner. His dadi insisted on using his right hand for everything,and though he used his left arm for bowling early on,he suddenly became more comfortable with the right arm, explains his father.
Getting custom-made cricket kits are little hindrances that a prodigy faces early in his career. Ekanshs father is now focusing on him shedding baby fat and preparing for the long road ahead. Its evening,Ekansh has just finished a two-hour net session,and its time to get back home,for his tuitions.
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