IPL 2020: The spectacular journey of India U19 skipper Priyam Garg
- Watch out for Priyam Garg as he looks to make a mark in his debut IPL season with SRH.
From overcoming the fear of leather balls to travelling 40km daily for training to becoming India Under-19's captain to bagging a massive IPL Contract of ₹ 1.9 crores -- Priyam Garg's cricketing journey so far has been nothing short of spectacular.
A young cricket enthusiast just like every other Indian boy, Garg started playing at the tender age of six. By 8, the UP lad joined coaching at the Victoria Park Stadium in Meerut. The ground was 20km away from Garg's home that was in the small town of Parikshitgarh.
A local tennis ball cricket champ, Priyam was initially scared of the leather ball. However, he adapted quickly and made Victoria Park his second home. The youngster started training for 7-8 hours in a day. Naturally, the fear of the leather ball evaded after such consistent practice.
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Priyam's father, Naresh Garg, did all that he could to fuel his son's dreams of making it big as a cricketer. Naresh resorted to odd jobs such as loading trucks and driving a school van to support the family financially. He did not even have sufficient money to but a proper cricket kit and had to borrow money from a friend to purchase it for his son.
Despite the hardships, Naresh was making it work. Seeing the sacrifices of his father, Priyam was also resolute and shaping up well as a cricketer. However, disaster struck the Garg family when Priyam lost his mother in 2011 - when he was just 11 years old.
This was definitely the hardest phase of Priyam's life. The youngster even asked his father if he should quit the sport and start supporting the family. But Naresh did not budge and worked extra hard to ensure that things went on smoothly for Priyam and his four siblings.
Very few know that the classy batsman initially started out as a bowler. Priyam's early days' coaches Sanjay Rastogi and Ashwani Sharma told him to focus more on batting and hence he made the switch - a decision he now feels was very wise.
Fuelled by circumstances and steadfast determination, Priyam intensified his efforts further and started wreaking havoc with the bat at the U14 and U16 level. His run making spree at the Junior level earned him a debut for Uttar Pradesh at the 2018–19 Vijay Hazare Trophy in September 2018. On the 1st of November, he got a chance to represent UP in the Ranji Trophy and joined the select group of players who hit a century on their debut match.
In the Elite Group C Match against Goa, Priyam smashed a fantastic 117 runs off 181 at a strike rate of 64.64. UP went on to win the match by an innings and 247 runs. Later in December 2018, the top-order batsman smashed his maiden First Class Double Century when UP took on Tripura. Garg scored 206 runs off 371 deliveries. He smoked 23 fours and a six in this innings.
Overall, Garg had a significant impact in the 10 matches he played during Ranji Trophy 2018-19 and helped his team reach the quarterfinals. He finished second on Uttar Pradesh's top run-scorers list and amassed a fantastic 814 runs at a phenomenal average of 67.83 and a strike rate of 57.97.
The self-proclaimed Sachin Tendulkar fanatic, Priyam used to watch the Master Blaster bat on the TV of a nearby paan shot, as the Garg family did not have one. The youngster also admires Cheteshwar Pujara's shot selection and calmness. The times have changed and the steep incline in Garg's career has made the world take notice of him. It is now time that budding cricketers look up to him for inspiration. 19-year-old Priyam's temperament and batting style have also been praised by the likes of Rahul Dravid.
The Meerut-born player also represented his UP at the 2018–19 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Priyam amassed a total of 227 runs in the 11 T20s he played at a Strike rate of 132.74 and an average of 28.37. The ever-smiling batsman featured in the 2019–20 Duleep Trophy and Deodhar Trophy as well.
His run-making spree even got him close to featuring in the Indian team for the Under-19 World Cup back in 2018. Garg missed out on the 2018 edition as his form dipped right before the mega event.
However, Priyam's fantastic domestic form in the recent past meant that he would not only get to represent India at the Under-19 World Cup 2020 but also lead them as the captain.
In the Group A match against Sri Lanka Under-19s, Priyam scored a sensible 56 off 72 deliveries. India U19s posted a handsome total of 297/4 and ended up winning the match by 90 runs. Earlier, the right-handed batsman had scored 73 off 57 against Zimbabwe Under-19s in the warm-up match.
However, later on in the tournament, Garg failed to capitalize on his opportunities - he got out after scoring 5 against Australia U19s in the quarterfinal and then in the summit clash against Bangladesh U19s, the youngster scored just 7. Despite these two forgettable knocks, Priyam, who is extremely strong on the off-side, gave a glimpse of what he is capable of and the fact that he is a natural leader.
Mohammad Kaif (2000), Parthiv Patel (2002), Ambati Rayudu (2004), Virat Kohli (2008), Prithvi Shaw (2018) were all captains of India U19 teams in the respective years. Each of the aforementioned players featured in the senior national team. Garg will now be looking to follow their footsteps, gain limelight and exposure in the IPL and hope to earn a national call-up soon.
If Garg makes the most of his few opportunities (if any) that he is given in the IPL, then his career looks set to hit a crescendo. Today, it seems like Priyam's life has come full circle. We are sure his father Naresh is the happiest now, maybe even happier than his son, if ever there was a metric to measure happiness. In addition to the ₹ 1.9 crores contract from Sunrisers Hyderabad, spending time with classy batsmen such as David Warner and Kane Williamson will surely be a memorable experience for the 19-year-old.
Watch out for Priyam Garg as he looks to make his mark in his debut IPL season with SRH.
Published 12 Mar 2020, 16:47 IST