It is not every season that a 16-year-old amasses as many as 1,200 runs and also claims 57 wickets in a national level cricket tournament. Amritsar-born Abhishek Sharma has done just that. His extraordinary effort was icing on the cake as the all-rounder captained Punjab to a title win and helped retain the Under-16, Vijay Merchant Trophy.
“The season turned out to be very good for me. I took each match as a challenge that tested my skills on the field. I am happy that I could contribute to my team. It was special to win the tournament. When the team was felicitated by the state association, secretary MP Pandove told me to keep up the good work and focus at the U-19 level. And that is my aim. I would like to keep the good form going and train harder for further challenges,” said youngster while reflecting on the season.
Speaking about the challenges lying ahead, Abhishek said, “I am just 16, I have a long way to go. Also, I am not in any hurry; things will happen when the right time comes. Right now my focus is to concentrate on delivering the goods at the U-19 level for Punjab and also the North Zone. I will work hard and see that I don’t lose focus. If I have built a reputation, I won’t let it go. Maintaining fitness and working on developing more skills would be a very important aspect in the coming months for me.”
A student of Class XI at the Delhi Public School in Amritsar, Abhishek is attending a U-19 state camp being held under coach, Munish Bali in Patiala. After that he will attend the ZCA camp along with Shubhman Gill, Mayank Markande, Akul Pandove and Rishab Bharat.
Harleen Deol to lead U-23 North Zone team in ODI inter-zonals
After a successful stint in the U-19 two-day inter-zonal matches, Himachal Pradesh all-rounder Harleen Deol has been named the captain of the U-23 North Zone team that will compete in the inter-zonal one-day matches. The tournament will be held in Raipur from February 16.
North Zone will take on East Zone in their opening match of the tournament. The 17-year-old all-rounder, who used to play for Punjab before shifting to Himachal for better opportunities, was the highest scorer with 209 runs in the U-19 two-day inter-zonal tournament held in January. While she opens the batting for her team, Deol, also bowls leg-spin and has taken eight wickets in four matches. Although, North Zone finished at the fourth spot in the tournament, she made an impression on the zonal selectors with her all-round skills which earned her the captaincy of the U-23 North Zone outfit for the inter-zonal tournament.
With plenty of grass on the pitches, the Raipur stadium ground is likely to assist the seamers more than the spinners. North Zone will bank on its seamers, Soni Yadav and Mansi Joshi to provide them with early breakthroughs. Meanwhile in the batting department, Deol and Taniya Bhatia will have to spend quality time at the crease and post big knocks.
“My confidence got a great boost playing in the U-19 tournament recently in Ranchi. I have been training hard and staying focused. This is a time to score big knocks and make my presence felt. I want to do well in the upcoming U-23 one-day inter-zonals followed by senior one-day inter-zonal tournament. It is also important to contribute with both - bat and ball these days and present yourself as a genuine all-rounder,” said Deol, who will be the vice-captain of the North Zone senior women’s team that will take part in the inter-zonal tournament later this month. The opener had hammered 116 runs against East Zone in the second innings of the match during the U-19 inter-zonal match in Ranchi.
Former cricketer, Navdeep Singh to be on-field umpire for women ODIs
Former Punjab left-arm spinner, Navdeep Singh has become the fourth umpire from the state to be a part of international cricket after Jasbir Singh, Dr Manjit Singh Mahal and the late Prof R C Sharma. The 44-year-old was the third umpire in the 1st ODI between India Women and Sri Lanka Women in Ranchi and will be on the on-field in the remaining two ODIs. He recently returned after umpiring in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final match between Mumbai and Jharkhand at Mysore.
Singh, who played close to a decade for Punjab has taken 128 wickets in 44 first-class games. He was a member of the Duleep Trophy-winning North Zone team in 1999 and is an employee with AG Punjab in Chandigarh.
Singh was earlier named the fourth umpire in the India vs Australia match in Pune in 2014. He has been a consistent umpire at the domestic level since 2008 and has so far officiated in 25 first-class matches.