All-rounder Raj Angad Bawa making opportunities count

Youngster Raj, who registered the highest score by an Indian in the ICC U-19 World Cup game against Uganda, had no clue about the record.

(FILE PHOTO): Raj Angad Bawa with his father Sukhwinder Singh Bawa.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Every night Sukhwinder Singh Bawa patiently waits for a phone call from his son. Keeping in mind the nine-and-a-half hour time difference between Guyana and India, Sukhwinder ensures that he does not go to bed without talking to Raj Angad Bawa, who is currently in the Caribbean with the Indian team for the U-19 World Cup.

Ever since reaching the West Indies a fortnight ago, Raj Angad has made it a point to speak to his father, who is also his coach, about everything related to cricket. And in every conversation, Sukhwinder - who used to work with former India international Yuvraj Singh during his formative years - would tell his son to ‘play his natural game’ and have self-belief.

And on Saturday, dad’s advice worked well for Raj Angad as he went on to score an unbeaten 162 off 108 deliveries with 14 fours and eight sixes against Uganda and broke Shikhar Dhawan’s record for the highest score by an Indian in the tournament.

Raj Angad Bawa with his father Sukhwinder Bawa (right) and Yuvraj Singh.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

 

In the 2004 edition of the tournament, Dhawan had scored 155 not out against Bangladesh. The 19-year-old from Chandigarh reached the milestone in the 49th over of the Indian innings, after decimating the bowlers to notch up his maiden Youth ODI ton.

“All I told him was to enjoy his game. I told him that ‘cricket enjoy kar, tere me woh hai'… (enjoy your cricket, you have it in you) The idea was to make sure that he is not under pressure and that he can help his team as and when required. He had that self-confidence and that helped,” Sukhwinder told Sportstar.

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While the Bawa family watched the proceedings at their home in Chandigarh, Raj Angad was not even aware of the fact that he had broken Dhawan’s 18-year-old record. “I did not know about it until I returned from the ground and saw it on Instagram,” Raj Angad said.

With a few members of the team out of action due to COVID-19, Raj Angad was promoted up the order and batting at No.4, Bawa stamped his class as he not only slammed a fascinating ton but also stitched a 206-run stand with the other centurion Angrkrish Raghuvanshi. “It was even special because we (Angrkrish and I) are roomates. Since I was given a promotion in the batting order, my target was to contribute as much as I could. And, I played with that mindset,” Raj Angad added.

A fast-bowling all-rounder, Raj Angad has had a memorable campaign so far. After bagging four wickets against South Africa in the first match, he scored 42 against Ireland.

"All the coaches have told us to focus on the process. Even VVS Sir (NCA chief VVS Laxman, who is currently traveling with the team) shares experiences from his playing days and that helps us," Raj Angad said. As he walked back to the pavilion after that unbeaten knock, Raj Angad also earned praises from Laxman.

“All this while, he was not getting an opportunity to bat up the order. Now that he has made the most of the opportunity, he will be more confident and that will help him and the team going forward,” Sukhwinder, a seasoned coach in the domestic circuit, said.

“He is young and the more he plays, he will get better. He has the potential and should have faith in himself. Ahead of the tournament, there was no special thing that we worked on. We just polished a few things and that is helping him,” Sukhwinder added.

Coming from an illustrious sporting family - his grandfather Tarlochan Bawa was a member of India’s hockey team, which won gold in the 1948 Olympics - Raj Angad has so far enjoyed success at the international sporting arena.

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