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Wielding the willow

While his talent with the ball earned Pradeep Sangwan a berth in India’s squad for the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia and both editions of the IPL with Delhi Daredevils,the cricket bat...n

While his talent with the ball earned Pradeep Sangwan a berth in India’s squad for the U-19 World Cup in Malaysia and both editions of the IPL with Delhi Daredevils,the cricket bat — his new weapon of choice — is forcing jaws to drop in the Capital’s local circuit.

The regular set of spectators who gather below the parking-lot tree at the St. Stephen’s ground to catch a glimpse of the Goswami Ganesh Dutt Memorial cricket tournament watched in disbelief as Sangwan walked out to opening the innings for Collage Sports in the semi-final against ITC (Gurgaon). They perhaps thought themselves lucky,for the make-do roof that the tree provided,as Sangwan unleashed his shots.

Chasing 170 to win,he began scoring at a blinding pace,punishing anything short and displaying his wide range of strokes while being especially severe on the spinners. By the time he walked back in the 13th over,he had scored a match-winning 84 out of a team-total of 96 at that stage. “I have scored a couple of fifties for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy,but those came batting lower down the order,” Sangwan told Sportline.

Spotted as a potential all-rounder by his coach AN Sharma,the 18-year-old says he always wanted to do well with the willow. “Batting comes naturally to me. Playing higher up the order gives me more room and space. Whereas in the IPL,with the time constraint,I get fewer chances to bat.”

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Carrying as many as five bats in his kit,Sangwan’s role model is the destructive Adam Gilchrist. “I love the way he strokes the ball without fear. His explosive nature is something I am modelling myself on. He has the greatest influence on my batting,” he says.

Though bowling will remain his primary focus,the prospect of being an all-rounder is something he is serious about. “I’m taking my batting seriously in the nets. If I could make a few more big scores,you never know,I might actually be promoted up the batting order,” he says,adding,“But bowling is still my priority,” he says.

As he made all the right noises with both the willow and leather on Wednesday,Sangwan earned the Man of the Match award for his 84 and two wickets. His club will be hoping of a repeat performance in the final.

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Brief scores: ITC (Gurgaon) 169 in 39.1 overs (Pradeep Chawla 69,Pankaj Joshi 44; Mahesh Rawat 3/35); Collage Sports 173/3 in 27.5 overs (Pradeep Sangwan 84,Mahesh Rawat 50 n.o.)

First published on: 11-06-2009 at 01:28:17 am
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