It was a historic moment for Ashok Sandhu on 6th October 2016 as the boy from Chandigarh went on to become the youngest cricketer to have played for Haryana in Ranji Trophy.
Born on the 11th of October 2000, the left-arm spinner made his debut for Haryana in their clash against the Services at Mumbai's Brabourne Stadium. The match ended in a draw, however, Sandhu put up a decent performance.
The young spinner bowled 12 overs in the first innings and picked up one wicket. Sandhu then came back in the second innings to pick up two crucial wickets. His performance in the first match has made him a strong contender to be part of Haryana's playing eleven in their next encounter against Hyderabad.
Sandhu hails from a small village in the Kaithal district. His father, Satpal Singh, who is an employee at an animal husbandry department expressed his happiness when asked about his son's performance in the first match.
"We had been avoiding his demands as cricket is a costly game and you need proper equipment. Until his coach started motivating us, we were totally unaware. Now we are satisfied that he is moving in the right direction," he said.
Speaking to Times of India, Sandhu said that his elder sisters have always been supportive of him. Even though his parents were against his interest towards cricket, his sisters motivated him throughout his journey.
The 16-year-old started training at Jannayak Chaudhary Devl Lal Academy in Sirsa four years ago. He then came to Chandigarh where he raised quite a few eyebrows. His talent was rewarded instantaneously as he got an opportunity to be trained by Madan Lal Sharma in Delhi. Madan Lal was part of the World Cup winning Indian squad of 1983.
"This is just the beginning. I owe it to my coach, sisters, and seniors. I will do my best now," said Sandhu when asked about his future goals.
The youngster received heaps of praise from all the cricket fraternities. Haryana Cricket Association secretary Anirudh Choudhary said it was a proud moment for the player and the association.
"Entire credit goes to the selection committee and the head Rajinder Goel. He recognized his talent and made him play directly. Now, it is performers' time and we hope to see Ashok in the national team as well," he was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
Having made a mark in his debut game itself, Sandhu would be looking to build on his fine performance in the coming weeks.