Two months ago, 30-year-old US cricketer Jaskaran Malhotra made the journey from New York to Morrisville in North Carolina after the Chandigarh-born cricketer was assigned to coach trainees at the Church Street Park Stadium by USA Cricket. But as the number of Covid-19 cases in USA swelled to over seven lakh over the last two months, Malhotra has had to stay on in Morrisville, away from his family in New York.
Malhotra, who had a daughter last year, said he is keenly following the updates from New York apart from following his fitness regime in Morrisville. Over one lakh people have tested positive for the virus in New York and there have been over 8,000 deaths so far.
“I had come back to USA after spending more than two months in Chandigarh last December. With USA Cricket planning a minor cricket league with more than 22 teams later this year, I was assigned the task of training trainees at Morrisville and started two months ago.
“While we had heard about some coronavirus cases, the situation at that time was not bad. My family, including my wife Preti and daughter Inaaya, are staying indoors in New York. I talk 4-5 times daily with them. I had earlier thought of coming to India to attend my brother’s marriage, but it has been postponed now,” Malhotra said in a telephonic interview.
The Chandigarh cricketer had shifted to the US in 2014. Before that Malhotra had captained the Himachal Pradesh U-19 team apart from attending India U-19 camps. Malhotra has played for the USA cricket team for the last two years, including in the World T20 Qualifiers Subregional Americas Tournament, in which he played a knock of 106 runs. He also made his ODI and T20I debuts.
Malhotra was one of the 12 players who were offered three-month contracts by USA Cricket last year and the wicket-keeper batsman remains among the top 17 elite cricketers there. Though Malhotra was not part of the USA team which toured Nepal earlier this year, the cricketer is hopeful of making a return to the team for the Cricket World Cup League 2. The series was originally to be played in April, but has now been postponed.
“At present, all sporting activities except golf and WWE have been stopped in USA. We all understand that measures like stopping tournaments needs to be taken at such times,” he said.
“Here in North Carolina, public areas are still open. Once in a week, I go for running at the Crabtree Lake apart from exercising at my home. Some of my trainees come to exercise with me but we all follow strict social distancing. Team USA’s new coach J Arun Kumar shares his inputs with each player everyday. Trainer Burt Cockley tracks out my fitness routines through phone. I have also been seeing my wicket-keeping videos and keep talking with former Pakistani wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal for his inputs,” said Malhotra.
With his family in New York, Malhotra said he had received help from Pakistani friends in Morrisville. Apart from sending him food, his Pakistani cricketer friends also keep talking with him about cricket.
“I have made a lot of friends due to cricket here, including Pakistani friends. My friend Zeeshan’s mother has been sending food to last me 3-4 days every week. The biggest thing which this phase has taught me is patience. I have been practicing yoga apart from meditation and also reading spirituality books,” said Malhotra.
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