On Thursday when Delhi all-rounder Manan Sharma dialled Tejashwi Prasad’s mobile phone, he didn’t really expect his one-time teammate from junior cricket days to take the call. Manan thought that his roommate in several away games in age-group cricket, would be busy. All evening with television channels predicted him as Bihar’s deputy chief minister, but Manan had his doubts. Tejashwi was on the line within a couple of rings and the two ended up talking like old times.
The bond that the two sons of famous fathers — political heavyweight Lalu Prasad and former cricketer Ajay Sharma — shared has survived Tejashwi’s big switch from cricketing whites to that of kurta pyjama. To Manan, India’s youngest-ever deputy CM was still his old buddy Tej. He was still the reliable middle-order batsman, who loved movies, hated gun-totting security men around him, and had a match-winning partnership with tailender Ishant Sharma when Delhi won the under-15 national championship.
As a 13-year-old, Tejashwi made his debut in the U-15 team led by present India captain Virat Kohli. Most regular on the Delhi circuit insist that his graduation to the under-17 and then the under-19 Delhi team had little to do with his family name.
His rise to the next level — as a standby with the World Cup winning India U-19 side in 2008, his first class debut for Jharkhand and his long stint on the Delhi Daredevils bench without playing a game — weren’t seen with raised eye-brows.
Tejashwi moved to Delhi from Patna for studies and stayed at the Bihar Bhawan with his sister, who was pursuing medical. At a young age, he commenced his cricketing journey under coach MP Singh at the National Stadium. Tariq-ur-Rehman, then Bihar captain and Singh’s student, put a word to his coach about Tejashwi.
“Tariq told me about Tejashwi. He would have been 11 or 12. I told Tariq that he would have to undergo the regular selection process and we would take a call after seeing his game. His game was decent. A middle-order batsman who could bowl handy off-spin,” Singh remembered.
Success came early to Tejashwi. The all-rounder, at the age of 13, starred in U-15 tournaments for Singh’s side and Delhi Blues, and helped them win “15 to 17 trophies” that season. His coach at Delhi Blues, Dronacharya award winner Gurcharan Singh remembers Tejashwi as one of his most well-behaved wards.
“Tejashwi used to train at National Stadium but played (DDCA) league and other tournaments with us. He never came across as the son of a high-profile politician. Our interactions were limited to the field and there he was one of the most well-behaved boys. Very grounded, humble and a positive attitude towards cricket,” recalled the veteran coach.
Munishwar Prasad, a driver employed at Bihar Bhawan, reminisced how Tejashwi hated going to school everyday. “We had to drag him out of bed every morning to make him go to school. But when it came to his cricket training sessions, he needed no pushing. He would be ready before I reached the house,” Prasad said. According to DR Saini, principal of Delhi Public School, RK Puram, where Tejashwi studied for four years — from Class 6 to Class 9 — he was “a very disciplined and obedient student”. Employed as the head of the sports department at the school when Yadav was a student, Saini remembered him as a cricket enthusiast.
“He had studied in the primary section at DPS Vasant Vihar and came to this school in Class VI. He was more of an introvert and was quite unaffected by the political stature of his family. He was an average student but had immense passion for cricket. He was a part of the school cricket team and even represented the state in various tournaments against schools in the country and abroad.”
On one occasion, Saini said, he had asked Tejashwi about his career plans. “I asked him if he wanted to join politics. He told me that he did not know but said cricket was his first love,” Saini recollected.
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