After U-19 World Cup heroics, Raj Angad Bawa wants to take it 'step by step'

Youngster Bawa thanks team management for keeping all the boys motivated while on the road to the final of the ICC U-19 World Cup.

Raj Angad Bawa with his father Sukhwinder Singh Bawa.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Bowling all-rounder, Raj Angad Bawa, hails from a family of sporting riches. His grandfather, Tarlochan Singh Bawa was a key member of the 1948 Olympic gold-winning Indian team, while his father Sukhwinder Singh Bawa trained Yuvraj Singh in his formative years.

A hard-hitting left-hand batter and a crafty right-arm medium pacer, Raj Angad had an incredible outing in the U-19 World Cup - claiming nine wickets and amassing 252 runs in six outings. In the final against England, the 19-year-old bagged a five-for to guide India to yet another title.

But almost a week after the final, Raj Angad is gearing up for the Ranji Trophy. Soon after landing in India, he travelled to Cuttack to join the Chandigarh team for the tournament and is currently in mandatory quarantine.

In an interview with Sportstar, Raj Angad shared his memories from the tournament and spoke about the road ahead.

How did you rate your performance in the U-19 World Cup?

The most important thing was to win the tournament, and it is a matter of pride and satisfaction that we managed to clinch the U-19 World Cup title.

What was the mood in the camp after winning the tournament?

Everyone was happy. Even Laxman sir (VVS Laxman, who toured with the Indian team) praised us a lot. Despite some of the players testing COVID-19 early on, we never gave up and went on chasing our dreams, so the team bonding was really good. Laxman sir and the coaches acknowledged this, so it was a really good feeling.

Before you walked into the ground for the final, did you feel that you guys could win the title?

We had quite a bit of preparation a few days before the final. The team management did everything to keep us motivated. They showed us the film ‘83’ a couple of days before the final and even members of the family were asked to send videos. Even Sourav Ganguly sir (BCCI president Sourav Ganguly) had sent us a message ahead of the final, where he told us that we should treat it as just another game and not take extra pressure. A similar thing was echoed by the coaching staff and Laxman sir. So, everything put together, we were charged up. Even in the meetings, we were told that we should treat it like any other match and not take too much pressure off the final.

Even Virat Kohli had an online session with the team. What did he tell you guys?

We were told to prepare questions for Virat sir. So, as soon as the conversation started, people started asking questions. That was quite helpful. I asked him about his U-19 days and whether he approaches a game with the same mindset even today, or has it changed? He replied that the basics remain the same, but it’s just that there have been a few changes here and there.

You shattered Shikhar Dhawan’s record in a group league match against Uganda. Do you think that was the turning point in your career in the tournament?

I wouldn’t say there was any particular turning point. Some boys had COVID-19, so as a team our target was to overcome the odds and put in the hard yards. We just ensured that all of us knew our roles and took up more responsibility. Angkrish (Raghuvanshi), too, returned to form and even I could score runs. So, that helped the team.

When several members of the team tested positive for COVID-19, what was the atmosphere in the camp? How did the team react to the situation?

On the day of the Ireland match, there was panic, initially. But then, eventually, we handled the situation well. Even the coaches ensured that we are in the right frame of mind and in that zone. In between matches, we skipped training as a precautionary measure and there were video calls with the boys, who were in quarantine. So, everyone felt comfortable and it was a good environment.

After winning the final, the team also caught up with Curtly Ambrose. What was his advice to the bowlers?

We met him during a ceremony, right after the final. He told us that nowadays, every fast bowler focuses on line and length, whereas the focus should be on speed. Line and length can be adjusted later, he told us.

The IPL auction will be held on Saturday, and you will also be featuring in the Ranji Trophy. So, going forward, how do you want to approach things over the next few months?

I want to take it step by step. For now, the focus shifts to Ranji Trophy and if I get an opportunity to play, the target will be to perform well. If I start thinking too much about the long-term, then it will add added pressure. Obviously the target is to play for India, but I don’t want to rush things. I want to make every opportunity count and keep performing, and if I can do that, I can make it to the Indian team quickly. As far as the IPL is concerned, it is not in my hands. I have done whatever I could during the U-19 World Cup, and the rest is up to the franchises.

During the team’s get-together in Ahmedabad a couple of days ago, you were having a long chat with head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar. What were you discussing?

I had asked him about the switch from white-ball cricket to red-ball cricket. Since I will be playing Ranji Trophy, I wanted to know how to approach the format in terms of batting and he explained that I should take some time to settle down in red-ball, but otherwise, there are no changes. 

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :