Sehwag: Kalra has the temperament and skills to go far in this game

The century in the final was a forceful statement from this gifted batsman from West Delhi that he needs to be under the constant radar of the National selectors.

Manoj Kalra has given a proof of his prowess with a century in a Test (at Chesterfield) on the under-19 tour to England in 2017. (File Photo)   -  PTI

Manjot Kalra is rightly grabbing attention. The century in the final was a forceful statement from this gifted batsman from West Delhi that he needs to be under the constant radar of the National selectors. Not that Delhi cricket was taken by surprise at his ability to strike the ball with such grace. Those who have followed his exploits were only waiting for him to explode on the big stage. And he did it grand style by crafting a match-wining knock on Saturday.

For Virender Sehwag the emergence of Kalra was hardly surprising. “I have been saying that Delhi has some awesome talent and Manjot is one to be watched closely. I just loved his batting (in the U19 World Cup final) and am convinced he can be fast tracked to the state team. He has the temperament and skills to go far in this game. He has the strokes to keep the fielders busy. He can be a devastating batsman.”

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Kalra has gave proof of his prowess with a century in a Test (at Chesterfield) on the under-19 tour to England in 2017. W. V. R. Raman, coach of that team, fndly recalled Kalra’s performace. “He likes to get on with the game. He can also hit big. He likes to dominate the bowlers. At that age they are confident and play their shots with lot of positive intent. Manjot always looks for thrills and excitement when batting. I am not surprised with his success at all because he knows how to mix caution with aggression. We saw that in the final.”

In Delhi, Kalra’s long-time coach Suresh Batra always spoke highly of him. There is lot similarity in Kalra and Virat Kohli’s grooming. Kohli accompanied his brother (Vikas), along with his father, to the West Delhi Cricket Academy run by Rajkumar Sharma. Incidentally, Batra was Sharma’s assistant then. A few years later, Kalra came to the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) academy in Rohini, accompanied by his elder brother (Hitesh) and father (Parveen).

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“I realised that Manjot was knocking the ball so sweetly. I convinced his father to concentrate on his younger son and I am glad I made the right decision. Hitesh went on to play for Delhiunder-17 and it was a matter of time before Manjot would make his presence felt,” said Batra.

Kalra rose through the ranks, scoring centuries in under-14 and under-16. His heavy scores in under-19 confirmed his talent. “He is very dedicated and can take on any pressure. His hand-eye co-ordination is exemplary,” says Batra.

Former India batsman Gursharan Singh, a noted coach now, analysed Kalra well. “I have seen at some Zonal Cricket Academy camps and found him disciplined in his work. His footwork is very decisive and timing top class. The ball hits the sweet part of the bat most consistently. Because of his ability to cut the ball hard, we had nicknamed him Mathew Hayden at our camps. He must improve his defence though.” Kalra would remember it for sure.