Kolkata: It will be a dream-come-true for Ansh Tandon, an emerging star of UAE cricket, when he steps onto the Bandra Kurla cricket ground in Mumbai soon to practise with the Indian Premier League franchise Punjab Kings. The 19-year-old has been invited to practise with a group of emerging players with the squad, captained by KL Rahul.
‘‘It will surely be a great learning curve for me,’’ Tandon said from his hotel room in Mumbai where he has checked in after flying from Dubai on Friday morning. A five-day quarantine later, the left-handed batsman is scheduled to join the squad for a month of training and travel with them.
The offer from the Punjab outfit, who have re-branded themselves for this season, is more of an opportunity to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names of the sport - and Ansh is well aware of it. Speaking to Gulf News over phone, he recounted how the opportunity came about: ‘‘I was looking up my Instagram and found out that Punjab Kings were looking for new young talent. I sent some of my videos and they liked it. They contacted me with an offer of joining their Mumbai camp to train. If they are happy, then I can spend some more time with the team during the IPL.’’
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A first year student of the Heriot-Watt University, where Ansh is doing his graduation on international business management, he is one of the brightest upcoming batting talents who has made his international debut in the T20 format. He was also on the cusp of making his UAE debut in One-day Internationals in the four-match series against Ireland in Abu Dhabi in January but unfortunately, Ansh tested COVID-19 positive during the tests along with three other players - Chirag Suri, Alishan Sharafu and Aryan Lakra.
‘‘It came as a shock but I am sure that my time will come. Meanwhile, I was lucky to be chosen for this training programme with the biggest T20 franchise league in the world. It will give me a chance to interact with the top players, see how they prepare for the big games - which is a big plus for a young cricketer like me. And if they like my performance, may be a window of opportunity may open up in future,’’ he said.
Meeting with Pooran
Who among the Punjab Kings players are among his favourites? ‘‘I like KL Rahul’s style quite a lot, while I got a chance to know Nicholas Pooran up close - as I had played with him in the same team, Northern Warriors, in the Abu Dhabi T10. He is such an exciting player and nice person,’’ said Ansh.
The last time a UAE player got a chance to spend a full season with a IPL franchise was Chirag Suri, now the UAE vice-captain. Suri, an opening batsman, was roped in at a base price by the now defunct Gujarat Lions for the 2017 edition and though he didn’t get a look-in, Suri still maintains how it helped him grow as a cricketer.
‘‘It’s a great opportunity for him to get called up. It doesn’t really matter if he gets picked up now or in future but he will be watched by the right people. See, In Associate countries’ cricket, we don’t often get the right exposure and hence it could be a good break for him. Ansh is a hard working guy and I am sure he will do his best,’’ he added.