U-19 World Cup: Cricket’s great desi takeoverJanuary 19, 2018
NEW DELHI: Virat Kohli’s million dollar babies may have fallen apart like brittle bread crumbs but young immigrants and PIOs are ruling the charts at the U-19 Cricket World Cup. From skippering Australia to producing match-winning performances for hosts New Zealand, from controversially getting out for obstructing a fielder as South African opener to forming the majority in teams such as Canada and Kenya – they are making bold headlines. This is world cricket’s great desi takeover.
Two premier performers among hosts New Zealand – opener Jakob Bhula and left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra – share a similar background. Most scoreboards would run out of space putting out his full name: Jakob Jarrod Naran Patel Bhula. On Wednesday, Bhula plundered 180 against Kenya. Ravindra, whose father played club cricket with Javagal Srinath in Bengaluru, notched up 117. Ravindra’s bowling skills have been applauded by none other than Sourav Ganguly, who’s commenting on the games on television.
Sandeep Patel is the third Indian among the Kiwis. The Patel connection runs deep with the Black Caps. Deepak Patel surprised the world with his off-breaks in the 1992 World Cup. More recently, another offspinner Jeetan Patel has played for New Zealand.
Kenya’s top scorer against New Zealand too is of Indian-origin: Aman Gandhi (63). They have a Sachin as well: captain Sachin Ramniklal Bhudia. In fact the African team is peppered with desis: Abhishekh Chidambaram, Aveet Desai, Ankit Hirani, Jayant Mepani, Jasraj Kundi, Sukhdeep Singh and Siddharth Vasudev.
Canada has an equally strong contingent of Indians: Akash Gill’s sterling show with bat and ball (52 and 4 for 43) earned him the player of the match against Namibia. Kevin Singh, Pranav Sharma, Randhir Sandhu, Aran Pathmanathan, Rishiv Joshi, Arshdeep Dhaliwal, Ashtan Deosammy and Krishen Samuel are others with roots in the Indian sub-continent.
There’s more. Ireland has Varun Chopra. The England squad includes the tall Prem Sisodiya, a smart left-arm spinner who wields a handy willow. Jiveshan Pillay was the unfortunate South African opener who was given out for “obstructing the field” after an unsporting appeal by the West Indies. Against Kenya earlier, he had scored 62 off 67 balls.
The Caribbeans, whose links with PIOs dates back to the prodigious off-break bowler Sonny Ramadhin in the1950s, has at least four: Kirstan Kallicharan, Ronaldo Alimohamed, Joshua Persaud and Bhaskar Yadram, the 18-yearold all-rounder from Guyana. In a recent interview, Kallicharan said he grew up loving Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara and now enjoys watching Virat Kohli.