On Saturday evening, as the Chandigarh team ended their practice session, 20-year-old opener Mohammed Arslan Khan made sure to spend time with senior players like Uday Kaul, Bipul Sharma apart from VRV Singh. The Chandigarh lad has been named in the 15-member squad for the Ranji trophy plate group and with Chandigarh facing Arunachal Pradesh in their opening encounter, Khan will be eying to continue his U-23 form. The youngster had amassed 699 runs in the BCCI U-23 One Day Championship and had smashed five centuries during Chandigarh’s campaign in the tournament.
“Playing for Chandigarh has always been my dream and I will aim to utilize this opportunity of being named in the Chandigarh Ranji Trophy team. Spending time with seniors like Uday Kaul, Bipul Sharma and skipper Manan Vohra always helps a youngster like me and listening to them also makes us mature in terms of game. They have also played their cricket at Sector 16 Stadium and I shared some tips with them. I have also played a lot of junior cricket here and once an opener sets on this wicket, it’s easy for him. To make a debut at this ground will be a dream come true for me and I hope I can continue my U-23 form,” said Khan.
Youngest of four brothers, Khan would often follow his elder brother Shahnawaz to the cricket ground. Khan, whose father Zabih Ullah Khan, who runs a tailoring shop in Sector 17, started playing cricket at Saupin’s School in 2012 before he was spotted by Sukhwinder Bawa, coach of VRV Singh and Yuvraj Singh in their initial days. Bawa was working at Tau Devi Sports Complex at Gurgaon at that time and took Khan to Gurgaon to train under him for five years. The youngster would play at the U-14, U-16, U-19 and U-23 level for Himachal Pradesh and also captained the Himachal Pradesh U-19 side last year. Khan had played a knock of 87 runs at the U-16 level against Delhi in Himachal Pradesh colours in the 2013-2014 season. This year, the youngster scored a mammoth 699 runs in 11 matches for Chandigarh in the BCCI Men’s U-23 One Day Championship and smashed five centuries and two half-centuries. The youngster also smashed a run-ball 100 against Vidarbha in the quarter-finals to guide the team into the semi-finals.”It was my elder brother Shahnawaz, who took me to cricket training and later asked Bawa sir to have a look at my game. Bawa sir decided me to take to Gurgaon and I knew it was a challenge for me. I missed my family but I knew that I have to train to achieve my dream. Playing for Himachal Pradesh and scoring runs at the U-14, U-16, U-19 and U-23 level gave me a lot of confidence. When UTCA got BCCI affiliation, I decided to play for my home city and I am glad that I can score runs in the U-23 One day tournament. The knock against Vidarbha was special for me as they were a strong team and it was a knock-out game. I hope I can play some knocks like that in Ranji Trophy plate group this year,” said Khan.
Coach Bawa was also seeing his ward train at the stadium on Saturday. “When I first saw him, I realised after seeing his bat for three balls that this boy is a rare talent. Training under me at Gurgaon meant that he had to stay away from his family but he would only focus on his training. Scoring runs at U-23 level has given him confidence and I hope he continues his fine form ahead,” shared Bawa.
UTCA batting coach Ravneet Ricky too believes that Khan can be an asset for Chandigarh team. “Giving such youngsters break in the senior team at the right time is very important and Arslan is in smashing form this season. We have been following his centuries at the U-23 level and we believe he can be a strong opener for the team,” shared Ricky.