As career gathers pace, Rahul Batham aims to become India’s 'Ian Botham'
Gwal Mohalla - a small colony in the outskirts of Bhopal was in the midst of celebration last December. Christmas was still 3 days away while New Year’s Eve was more than a week away. The reason for their celebration was the selection of Rahul Batham, a young lad, in the Under-19 cricket team.
Exactly 10 years ago, Rahul was just like other kids in Gwal Mohalla. He used to play cricket with a tennis ball as a hobby using a plastic bat which he got as a gift from his mother. Rahul’s journey from a plastic bat to an English willow and from tennis to leather ball cricket has been redoubtable. At the age of 9, Rahul’s father Rajendra Batham who was a cricketer himself sent Rahul to Ankur Cricket Academy.
He came under the wings of Jyoti Prakash Tyagi who was Ankur Cricket Academy’s director. Rahul’s father was an employee at a private firm. Due to which he was facing lots of problems in making both ends meet. Astonished by Rahul’s talent at such young age, Jyoti Prakash Tyagi groomed Rahul and made sure he was a regular attendee for practice in his academy. Within next few years, Rahul made it to Bhopal under 15’s team. As Rahul got inclined more towards the red cherry, he often made his willow talk in district age group tournaments. Rahul used to bat at no. 5 and open the bowling for his team. These were the early signs of a player who had big dreams and grit to fight against all odds.
2013/14 season was a big success for Rahul
In November, Rahul got a maiden call-up from Madhya Pradesh under 16’s team for an invitational tournament against Baroda which served as a preparatory tournament to Vijay Merchant under 16’s national cricket tournament. Rahul picked up Fifer in final to take Madhya Pradesh to victory. Within few months, Madhya Pradesh under 16’s team won Vijay Merchant trophy for the first time as Rahul took 4 wickets in the final.
Rahul’s performance caught an eye of former India and Madhya Pradesh cricketer who is in charge of Madhya Pradesh cricket academy. Rahul was drafted in the academy and was nurtured by Amay Khurasiya under his watchful eyes. He made his under 19s debut in very next season and produced magnificent spells bowling in tandem with Avesh Khan who is India’s prime bowler in under 19s tournament.
Rahul achieved new heights in 2015-16 season. He was selected for Under 19s challengers trophy which happen to be primarily a selection tournament for under 19s World Cup team. Rahul played for India Blue to end up as second highest wicket-taker of the tournament with 9 wickets in 3 matches and just 1 short of Avesh Khan’s 10 wickets. More importantly, Rahul once again proved that he is a big match player when he picked up 5 wickets in the final.
As Rahul was swinging it swiftly with the ball, his bat also roared in very first game of under 19s Cooch Behar trophy. He amassed 157 runs because of which Madhya Pradesh won by an innings. There is a significant dearth of fast bowling all-rounders in India. Over the years, Rahul has overcome lots of challenges. Now, perhaps he has to face the biggest challenge which is to maintain consistency at the highest level. As Rahul is all set to take off and reach an apogee, India can hope for its very own all-rounder Rahul ‘Botham’ in the coming few years.