“Karun Bhaiya “.
” Bhaiya !! It’s 6:00 In The Evening. Why You Woke Me Up. It’s Not 4 In The Morning 😑 .”
” There’s a Call For You . Take The Phone .”
” Hello. ”
” Hi Karun This Is Charles Sidebottom. I Hope You Know Me. ”
” Of course Sir. You Are The U-19 Head Coach Of Our Country.”
” I called You To Inform You Of Your Selection In The World Cup Squad As A Replacement For Shreyas. You’ll Have To Report Here In Melbourne By Thursday. ”
” Sure Sir . I’ll Be There.”
” I’ll Give You A Number . Call Him and He’ll Give You The Details Of Your Flight and Etc. See You Here Soon.”
” Thank You So Much Sir.”
Oh My God ! Am I Still Asleep? Or Am I Dreaming ? Uhmm…I Wasn’t 😅 In A Day I’ll Be Flying To Australia For The U-19 World Cup .Importantly , I’ll Be Able To Represent My Country For The Very First Time.What An Honour 😇.
I Called Dad And Informed Him About This And He Was Super Excited. I was Bound To Pack All My Stuff And Leave Today For Melbourne. It’s An 8 Hour Long Flight So Obviously I Had A Lot Of Stuff To Pass My Time While Flying.
I Reached Melbourne In The Morning , I Found A Couple of People In An ‘ India Blazer ‘ . They Greeted Me And Took Me To The Team Hotel. I met The Squad Which Was Suppose To Play The Quarter Final Tomorrow And Our Staff Which Included Charles Sidebottom , Ravi Venkataraman and Pravin Hegde Who Are Very Respected and Recognized Coaches And The One In Charge Of The Indian U-19s
It Was The Match Day And We Were Up Against South Africa , A Top Squad With Quality Players . Quinton Phangiso , Morne Dippenar , Greame Creamer Already Established Themselves As Very Talented Lads With There Performances In The Tournament. Ishaan Sundar ( Our Captain ) A Gifted All Rounder Announced Today’s Playing XI and Knowingly I wasnt A Part Of It. It was Fine to be On The Bench , Cause You Cannot Expect Someone To Play a Knockout Game The Very Next Day you Land In A Foreign Land Where You Actually Have No Idea About The Pitch And The Conditions There , Though I Somehow Wanted To Go And Bat.
We Posted A ‘Not A Very Big Score’ Of 250 for 8 . Though Australian Pitches Are Always Good To Bat On Because Of The Kind Of Bounce They Had , This Seemed A Much Dead Wicket With No Grass On It. When The South Africans Came To Bat, They Were Given A Fine Welcome By Adnan Khan , Our Pace Bowling Sensation. An Outswinger Took The Wicker Of Greame Creamer . As The Game Progressed , They Were Restricted To 215-7. We Won The Game , and I Still Had A Chance To Play.
The Semifinal Was Against New Zealand , A Strong Side. I was Again On The Bench , Waiting And Feeling Helpless. We Won The Game And Qualified For The Final Against England. A Day Before The Game , Charles Sir Called Me To His Room And Asked me To Ready Myself As I’ll be Playing In the Final As An Opener. Seemed To be An Experiment, I was Not Sure Whether An Experiment In The Final Is Worth Giving A Go. I was Very Anxious , I Couldn’t Sleep The Whole Night , Feeling Desperate And Wanted To Go Out Cause I was Growing Impatient.
Toss : England Won And Opt To Bat.
First 6 Overs : 33-0
After 20 : 106-1
After 30- 173-2
After 40 – 244-2
And Final Score Read – 312 – 5.
Gosh.! What A Score . What a World Cup Final.
So I Came To Bat. First Ball. Looking Closely Towards The Ball I Moved My Leg and Tried To Drive Towards Covers.
Next Ball A Short 135 Km Ball And I Managed To Get It Touched .
Overs Kept On Passing And I Didn’t Realized I Reached 50. The Team Started Applauding. I was Very Happy , Although We Still Needed 187 Runs In 174 Balls. The Day Seemed Rainy , Anytime Showers Could Come Down , So We Thought to bat a bit more Fast. We Read 231 -4 at 40 Overs. 82 of 60 Were Needed. The U-16 match Started In My Mind. It was The Same Situation , Where I Need To Take The Team Home , Being Set At 92* , I Wanted To Reciprocate The Result . I Was A Bit Excited.
Next Ball , Banged Short . I Pulled . Top Edge. In The Air. Caught. What Just Happened ? I Got Out For 92 and India Lost The Game By 53 Runs. The Only Chance If U-19 World Cup Is Over. Seriously , I Have My Wicket Away After Coming So Close .
Nobody Was Upset From me , Cause I Made Runs and only Playing my First Match , I Felt I Could Have Brought The World Cup Home. We Returned Home Next Day , Landing In Delhi . I took A Train To Chandigarh And Got Home . I Rang The Bell When Dad Opened , Red Faced , And Slammed By Cheek With a Tight Slap .
” Kya karke Aaya Waha pe ? “
I Didn’t Knew What To Say . I remained Silent . Just Waiting For Him To Take A Step. He Didn’t Let Me Come Inside That Day , And I Slept In The Car Which Mom Gave Me The keys .
I Got Selected In The Punjab Ranji Team, And Had a Very Ordinary Season . Got Excluded From The Squad Next season, I wasn’t Sure What To Do, When I Received A Call .
” Karun ?”
” Speaking ”
” Charles Sidebottom Here “.
” Oh…..Good Good Evening Sir.”
” Will You Join The Mumbai IPL Squad On A Youth Contract ?’
IPL ????? I was Overexcited.
” Yes Sir. I would Love To. ”
“Don’t Let Us Down . We Have Expectations From You.”
” I’ll Give My Heart Out Sir.”
” Sure Then… We’ll See You In the Camp Starting from 17 Match 2013. ”
” Thank you Sir. ”
My Mind Was Full Of Thoughts. I started Believing Charles Sidebottom As A Gin For Me . He Saved My Career For The Second Time now. If I Failed Now , I don’t See Myself Playing For India Ever.
What I Needed was ,. To Put My Career In The Driving Mode Now.