India U-19 star Vicky Ostwal's journey in pursuit of ambition

Vicky Ostwal starred with a five-wicket haul against South Africa to help India begin its ICC Under-19 Men’s World Cup campaign in style.

Vicky Ostwal celebrates taking a wicket against South Africa.   -  Twitter @BCCI

Struggle through daily local train commute is synonymous to cricketers from Mumbai. But Vicky Ostwal is different. Despite hailing from Maharashtra, the neighbouring team in the domestic cricket circuit that’s often been overshadowed by mighty Mumbai, Ostwal spent countless hours in local train to pursue his cricketing ambition.

All the efforts seemed worth it on Friday night as Ostwal starred with a five-wicket haul against South Africa to help India begin its ICC Under-19 Men’s World Cup campaign in style.

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“We just hope it’s the beginning for him. He has been working hard all these years. And the effort on Friday is a reflection of his passion, perserverance and the sacrifices that he and his parents have made all these years,” says Mohan Jadhav, Ostwal’s coach at the Dilip Vengsarkar Cricket Academy on the outskirts of Pune.

The lanky left-arm spinner is one of the three Maharashtra cricketers to have made the cut in India’s squad. And just like the other two - Rajvardhan Hangargekar and Kaushal Tambe - Ostwal had to relocate to Pune in pursuit of excellence on a cricket field.

Hailing from Lonavala, a hill station on the Mumbai-Pune national highway, it was Ostwal’s primary schoolteacher who spotted his spark. Father Kanhaiya, a real estate developer, then started ferrying him to the Vengsarkar Academy in south Mumbai.

But once they realised that Vicky would not be eligible to represent Mumbai and had to try for Maharashtra, the Ostwals started travelling to the Vengsarkar Academy from Lonavala on a daily basis. It resulted in him spending at least three hours commuting on a daily basis for four years since the age of nine.

“When he was around 13, I told his parents it would help him if they relocate closer to the academy. Being the supportive parents, they moved to a house that’s walking distance from the academy and since then he hasn’t looked back,” Jadhav says.

Jadhav adds Ostwal’s accuracy is his forte. “He can keep bowling at the same spot for hours. And with his craft and variation that he has, most batters find it difficult to deal with him.”

If Ostwal can continue to be as accurate as he was versus South Africa on Friday night for the next month, the spinner can soon join his academy senior Ruturaj Gaikwad in the list of the most promising cricketers in domestic cricket.

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