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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Atharva Anoklekar helps India defend small target and win title

How much of Cricket do you follow ? – and are you one following Team India’s fortunes at every level .. .. if so, did you enjoy (rather shout loudly) when Atharva Ankolekar fired that beautiful delivery deceiving and clean bowling Shahin Alam out !!  .. .. if you are asking – Atharva, who ? – you cannot be faulted, but please do read this post in full !!

So you are unlikely to know -  Dhruv Chand Jurel from Agra who is Captain and wicket keeper too.  Any reference to a keeper is most likely to lead to King MSD.  But where is MS Dhoni .. is he in or out ?   he sits in the minds of important people and rest of Indian cricket even as a home international season starts. His absence and his  presence, is all the more significant as this season begins with T20Is, a format that will remain India's focus for the next year or so, leading up to the T20 World Cup at the start of the Australian summer next year.  .. and the first T20 against SA is at Dharmasala tomorrow .. ..   Dhoni is not here as India begin their planning for the world event. Nor is he retired. Or injured. He is not rested; that happened during the West Indies tour. Nobody dares utter the word "dropped".  Indian selectors have treated shabbily – Srinivasan Venkatraghavan, Mohinder Amarnath, legendary Kapil Dev, Sehwag among many others !!

Some of you might have followed domestic tournament Duleep Trophy.  In our younger days, it was a premier tournament and a performance there was likely to guarantee a place in the National Team ! .. the  Duleep Trophy was named after Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji of Nawanagar (also known as 'Duleep'), the competition was originally started in 1961  contested by teams representing geographical zones of India. The inaugural tournament was won by West Zone who defeated South Zone in the final by 10 wickets. In the 1962–63 season four of the five teams (all except Central Zone) had their bowling attacks strengthened by a West Indies Test cricketer.  North Zone and West Zone have been the most successful teams with 18 wins each, although North's total includes one shared trophy and West's three.  Until 2014-15, five Indian zonal teams regularly took part in the Duleep Trophy – North Zone, South Zone, East Zone, West Zone and Central Zone. The original format was that the five teams played each other on a knock-out basis. From the 1993–94 season, the competition converted to a league format.  .. .. then it was diluted and now the trophy is played between teams selected by the Board !!!

Atharva Ankolekar has risen the hard way sweating and persevering amidst personal tragedy.     Son of a bus conductor, Atharva Ankolekar was not even 10  when his father passed away. His mother Vaidehi Ankolekar raised him single-handedly, working as a conductor in BEST, Mumbai bus services.  He was  selected for Indian Under-19 cricket team for the Youth Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. He  is a left-arm orthodox and left hand bat, currently studying in a college in Mumbai.   One of the most memorable moment of his short career was in  2010, when Atharva dismissed the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in a practice match. Impressed with the child, Tendulkar  later  gave him with a pair of autographed gloves.

The ACC Under-19 Asia Cup is a cricket tournament organised by the ACC for Under-19 teams from its member nations. It was first held in 1989 in Bangladesh where India won the tournament. The eight edition was held in September 2019 in Sri Lanka & India retained their title… .. but that was after lot of drama !  The score card reads :  India Under-19s 106 (Karan Lal 37, Hossain 3-8) beat Bangladesh Under-19s 101 (Akbar Ali 23, Ankolekar 5-28) by five runs

Left-arm spinner Atharva Ankolekar broke Bangladesh's spirited late resistance to help India defend 106, taking them to a seventh Under-19 Asia Cup title with a five-run win in a rain-interrupted, nerve-wracking encounter in Colombo. Needing 29 runs to win after being reduced to 78 for 8 in 21.1 overs, Tanzim Hasan Sakib and Rakibul Hasan put up a patient 23-run stand, taking Bangladesh close to their maiden title, before Ankolekar struck twice in the 33rd over to finish with figures of 5 for 28 in eight overs.

India started poorly after they elected to bat, reduced to 8 for 3 by seamers Sakib and Mrittunjoy Chowdhury within the first six overs. A 45-run stand between Dhruv Jurel and Shashwat Rawat helped rebuild the innings, before offspinner Shamim Hossain broke through, picking Rawat and next batsman Varun Lavande in the same over. Karan Lal at No. 8 then shored up India after having walked in at 61 for 6 in the 20th over, hitting the day's highest score of 37, which played a major part in getting India to a three-digit score. He was the last batsman to be dismissed, bringing the Indian innings to a close in 32.4 overs. Chowdhury and Shahin Alam cleaned up the tail to finish with three wickets each.

In reply, Bangladesh too were dealt early blows with fast bowlers Akash Singh and Vidhyadhar Patel striking in succession to reduce them to 16 for 4 in 4.1 overs. India seized control when Bangladesh captain Akbar Ali and Chowdhury - who were the only ones to cross 20 in the innings - fell within a space of three balls.  There was brilliant fightback by  Sakib and Rakibul for the ninth wicket,  the duo batting for 11.2 overs. Ankolekar  trapped  Sakib in front, leaving Bangladesh needing just six runs with one wicket remaining, and the match still poised on knife's edge. It ended two balls later, when Ankolekar bowled No. 11 Shahin Alam to wrap up a win for India. Ankolekar also finished as the tournament's highest wicket-taker, with 12 wickets in three matches.

The match was really nail-baiting .. well done Atharva Ankolekar !

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
14th Sept. 2019.

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