For Manjot Kalra, the last few months before he arrived in New Zealand for the recently-concluded Under-19 World Cup were not as smooth as his monumental unbeaten 101-run knock that helped India win the title on Saturday (February 3).
The last two months of 2017 were very tough for the youngster. He had a very poor Asia Cup in Malaysia, and at a time when he would have wanted to prepare earnestly for the World Cup, his father got admitted to the hospital for heart bypass surgery. Things became only more tougher for him when he was mired in an age fraud controversy at the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA).
However, things started to improve when he came out clean from the age fraud controversy and scored a brilliant 172 against Punjab in the Cooch Behar Trophy to seal his spot in the squad for the Under-19 World Cup. The left-handed batsman went on justify the decision of including him in the squad by starring for India in the final, as they thrashed Australia by eight wickets to lift the coveted title.
The real test now awaits the opening batsman and former India international Madan Lal, who had supported Kalra during the age fraud controversy, has said what the youngster needs to do now.
“We couldn’t have spoilt a career based on rumours. We had seen most of the players before, and we had to back him because he had cleared all the processes laid down by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI),” Lal told Sportstar.
“Now the real game starts for him. But it also depends on individuals on what they want to do. All they should bother about now is the performance and nothing else. A cricketer, at this stage, should think about the team as the step from U-19 to senior team is a big one. You will need to be one of the best,” added Lal who also heads the Cricket Advisory Committee of the DDCA.
Lal, who was a part of the team that won India’s maiden World Cup in 1983, further urged the associations to back the youngsters. He also said although DDCA does not have any immediate plans for Kalra, the organization would ‘definitely look after him’.
“The associations should be careful in handling the young cricketers. They should be given fair chances and not drop them abruptly after one match. The BCCI has invested [in] them, and they are also talented.The rest depends on the association to keep giving them chances. DDCA doesn’t have immediate plans for Kalra, but we will definitely look after him. We will try to give him a chance in Ranji Trophy; only chances can produce cricketers, and if the player starts performing, you know you have somebody at least for the next few years,” he said.
Here is the news feed: