Son of a Bus Conductor Drives India to U-19 Asia Cup Win
(This article was first published on 17 September 2019. It has been re-posted from The Quint's archives as India play Pakistan in the semi-finals of ICC U-19 World Cup 2020).
18-year-old Atharva Ankolekar played a major role in spinning the trophy into India's favour on 14 September. With a figure of 5-28, Atharva helped India out of a difficult situation and beat Bangladesh by 5 runs to retain the U-19 Asia Cup in Colombo.
In the run up to the U-19 Asia Cup final against Bangladesh, Atharva had been one of India's stand out performers. The left-arm spinner had a staggering figure of 3-36 against Pakistan and he followed it with a match winning 4-16 against Afghanistan.
India started on a bad note, showing a very poor display of batting. India was all out in 32.4 overs and only managed to score 106 runs. But the Indian bowlers changed the whole game, making sure to restrict the opposition to an even lower total. Bangladesh kept losing wickets at regular intervals and could only manage 101 in 33 overs.
Atharva's father, Vinod Ankolekar was a local cricketer himself who apparently wanted his son to go miles ahead of him in life. He was passionately involved in Atharva's cricket practice, taking night shifts just so he could be with his son during the day when he practised.
Even after losing his father at the tender age of 9, Atharva never lost focus. He was always determined to work hard and excel in his game.
On Saturday afternoon, he bowled different variations which the batsman found hard to play. His bowling, in fact, could be called rather symbolic, mirroring his own life - each variation a different phase of his life. The only difference was that while he had made it through all of them, Atharva ensured that the batsman didn't. He was the Player of the Match for his clinical performance.
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