Over the last few weeks, Aryan Dutt’s phone hasn’t stopped ringing. Ever since he has landed in India to feature in his first ODI World Cup for The Netherlands, his friends and family - based in Chandigarh and Delhi - have made it a point to check on him regularly.
There have been requests for tickets as well, as all of them want to see their ‘ puttar’ in action when the Men in Orange travel to Dharamshala, Delhi and Lucknow for their group league fixtures.
The 20-year-old is enjoying every bit of this attention.
“I have got lots of family in Delhi and Punjab, so yeah, there have been quite a few ticket requests. While it’s good to be back in India, for me, it’s quite simple - once I am out there on the pitch, my focus is to play to my potential and contribute to my team’s success,” Dutt tells Sportstar.
His father hails from Punjab’s Hoshiarpur and the parents shifted to The Netherlands 35 years ago. But in his growing up years, Dutt remembers visiting his ancestral village during holidays, and when he was 13, he travelled to Chandigarh to train under local coaches.
Born and raised in a country, where cricket is yet to become a leading sport, Dutt fell in love with the game early on and after watching his ‘favourite cricketer’ Mahendra Singh Dhoni guiding India to an ODI World Cup title in 2011. “My journey started in 2011, when I was nine. India won the World Cup that year and I followed the tournament closely since MS Dhoni was my favourite player. After that, I started playing cricket and eventually, I went to the age-groups, and by the time, I was 13, I came into Chandigarh to train with local coaches,” he says.
For the next three summers, he travelled to India to hone his skills as a right arm off-spinner. While those trips to ‘second home’ helped Dutt immensely, he played enough local cricket in The Netherlands to eventually make it to the senior national team in 2021. So far, he has featured in 25 ODIs and five T20Is, claiming a total of 24 wickets - 20 in ODIs, four in T20Is.
Being an associate nation, the Dutch team does not get much of an opportunity to rub shoulders with the big teams too often, but Dutt is happy with the opportunities that have come his way so far. “Since last year (in 2022), we have played against Afghanistan, New Zealand, the West Indies and also Pakistan. Initially, I was a bit nervous, but eventually, I took those games as an experience,” he says.
While his friends - Vikramjit Singh and Shariz Ahmad - made it to the T20 World Cup squad last year, Dutt narrowly missed out.
But since then, he has ‘worked hard’ to earn himself a spot in the ODI side for another marquee ICC event. Ever since reaching India a fortnight ago, Dutt has been part of The Netherlands’ tour games against Karnataka in Alur and as he travelled to Thiruvananthapuram to play a warm-up match against India, the youngster dreamed of meeting a few of the Indian players and picking their brains.
“If there’s a possibility, I would like to meet a few Indian players - especially (Ravichandran) Ashwin and would like to know what he thinks on the field and how he prepares for a game,” Dutt says, “I would also be keen on finding out more about the longevity of his career and how to go about it…”
The meeting hasn’t happened yet due to incessant rains in the city and also because of the fact that the Indian and Dutch teams are staying in different locations. But when the two sides meet again - in Bengaluru on November 11 - Dutt hopes to get lucky and spend some time with Ashwin - a spinner he looks up to.
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