Amid the chaos at the Delhi airport stood two boys in uniforms crisply ironed and a proud smile to finish the look. Sporting a navy blue DBCC (Delhi Blues Cricket Club) blazer, grey trousers and a contrasting tie, the boys stood in excitement as others were giving their luggage a final zip.
With tons of runs under their belt this season, the successful duo of Salil Malhotra and Madhav Kaushik, both who have represented Delhi at the U-14 and U-16 levels, want to check all boxes before they ascend on their ‘dream ladder’ to the Indian cricket team.
While their competitors will be engaged in the usual conditioning and fielding drills during the monsoon of Delhi, Salil and Madhav will be facing stiff competition in testing conditions for batsmen. Even after a satisfying season, they want more, and are bag-packed for the tour of England.
Eye on Delhi U-19
“I know the season ahead brings tough and competitive cricket. Hundreds of players will contest for a spot in the Delhi U-19 team, and I want to be all ready for that. England tour will expose me to the moving ball in testing conditions, and improve my game before the long Delhi season,” says Salil, who is an opener, soon after taking a selfie with his childhood buddy Madhav, who bats in the middle order.
Madhav on the other hand, soon after the selfie ritual, is engaged with his father to finish the last-minute airport preparations. The last time the duo boarded a flight was to Kashmir. Touring with the Delhi U-14 unit in 2011, the duo returned with the Dhruv Pandove Trophy. While Madhav scored a gritty hundred early in the tournament against Punjab, it was Salil’s tournament-winning knock – an unbeaten 120 against Jammu & Kashmir – which anchored Delhi to their only title in the season.
Coached by the Dronacharya awardee Gurcharan Singh, the 15-member unit will make the first stop at Leeds, where they will contest in a T20 and two 50-overs games. From Leeds, they will head to the city of London for seven back-to-back matches against formidable teams like Indian Gymkhana, British Tamil Cricket Club and British Tamil Club. The tour itinerary includes very little time for the London Tube outing as cricket dominates the sightseeing.
When they return, after a month-long exposure, the Salil-Madhav duo won’t have similar Delhi tales to share, but the experience to make some when the season rolls in the month of October.