U-19 World Cup: Nagarkoti and his cricket ‘sanskar’

Kamlesh Nagarkoti — who took 3/29 in India’s 100-run victory against Australia in the ICC U-19 World Cup on Sunday — worked on his bowling action through bio-mechanics, says his coach.

Kamlesh Nagarkoti celebrates a wicket during the ICC U-19 World Cup match against Australia on Sunday.   -  ICC

The tweet from Sourav Ganguly came in the middle of Australia’s innings and in no time, it became the talking point. The former India captain, who is in New Zealand as a commentator for the ICC U-19 World Cup, wrote: “@imVkohli @VVSLaxman281 @BCCI keep an eye on two under19 quicks… mavi and nagarkoti…bowling at 145 in new Zealand..brilliant…”

He was actually referring to India’s young pacers — Kamlesh Nagarkoti and Shivam Mavi — who outpaced Australia in the opening encounter and consistently clocked speeds above 140kmph.

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While Ganguly asked Virat Kohli and V.V.S. Laxman to take note of Nagarkoti’s performance, sitting far away in Jaipur, a certain Surendra Singh Rathore remained glued to the television set. The entire city of Jaipur was busy celebrating the Makar Sankranti on a Sunday morning, but for Rathore, watching the game on television was more important — after all, his old ward Nagarkoti had set the stage on fire, scalping three wickets.

“He is a very good listener, and an obedient student of the game. You tell him anything and he would listen,” seasoned coach Rathore told Sportstar.

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As he spoke, Rathore could distinctly remember that moment when he spotted a young boy at a local tournament seven years ago. “I was scouting near the cantonment area, where a local tournament was going on. I just saw him (Nagarkoti) field and quite liked him,” Rathore said. The young gun was in seventh standard then, and it was Rathore, who convinced Nagarkoti’s elder brother to get him admitted to the Sanskar School in Jaipur. “I was a coach at the Sanskar School’s Academy and we waived off his tuition fees and provided him with all support. That’s how it began,” Rathore stated.

A few months later, Rathore realised that this young boy has the potential to become a fast bowler. “For a fast bowler, rhythm is everything. We have also ensured that run-up is maintained well,” Rathore said, adding: “We have worked on the bowling action with the help of bio-mechanics. That has helped him,” the seasoned coach said.

Even when things did not go his way, Rathore had asked Nagarkoti not to lose hope. That he was not wrong was proven when Nagarkoti made it to the India U-19 team and enjoyed huge success in last year’s tour to England. He was the leading wicket-taker with 14 scalps. In the first Test in Chesterfield, he had a haul of 10-112.

Being consistent in his efforts worked for the 17-year-old.

Coming from a lower-middle class family, life was tough for Nagarkoti. His father, a retired Army personnel, originally hails from Uttaranchal. “His father wanted to shift to the native village after retirement a couple of years ago, but I told him to reconsider the decision,” he said, adding: “Had he gone back, the young chap’s career would have been halted. We could not let that happen.”

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The family listened to the coach, and it yielded result.

The young gun made his List A debut for Team Rajasthan last year in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Mumbai. In his second game against Gujarat at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai, he shone with the bat — scoring an unbeaten 56. He also scalped a hat-trick — becoming the first Rajasthan bowler to do so in a List A game.

Now, a first year student at Jaipur’s SS Jain Subodh PG College, Nagarkoti, however, was not too happy with his performance on Sunday.

“I spoke to him after the match. He told me —‘Sir, had I got a bit more chance, I could have done better’. I told him to maintain the momentum,” the coach said.

With plenty to play for, Rathore would want Nagarkoti to keep grabbing eyeballs in the tournament; bowling at 146 kmph in New Zealand does deserve some attention.