Monday, February 26, 2024

Akash Deep: From Twin Tragedies to Realizing His Dream | Cricket News – Times of India

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KOLKATA: “I feel the Bengal bowling unit is one of the best in recent Indian domestic cricket,” former India opener WV Raman had said before the Bengal vs Saurashtra Ranji Trophy final at the Eden Gardens in 2023. He was not wrong as the Bengal pace trio of Akash Deep, Mukesh Kumar and Ishan Porel tore apart all opposition that season. It’s thus a natural progression that two of them -Akash and Mukesh – will share the India dressing room in the coming three Test matches against England.
While Mukesh had already represented the country in all three formats of the game, it’s time for his statemate now to make a mark after getting his maiden call-up for red ball cricket. Akash has been one of the most consistent performers in recent time with his standout performances for India ‘A’ being on display in the recent unofficial multiple-day series against England Lions, where he took 13 wickets.

However, with a non-sporting background, no one in his family ever wanted Akash to play cricket. Akash’s father Ramji Singh was a teacher at Sasaram in Bihar. “My father didn’t like me playing cricket. Bihar was out of the Ranji Trophy then and cricket didn’t offer a bright future. I used to play cricket secretly,” he once said about his growing up days.

In 2010, Akash came to Durgapur in Bengal and started staying with his uncle. At a local academy, he got in as a batter. But as he was gaining height, local coaches asked him to try his hand in fast bowling.
But he suffered a setback even before his cricketing career could get wings to soar. His father passed away after a paralytic attack. Before the family could come to terms with the tragedy, Akash lost his elder brother too. The twin tragedies sent the youngster back to his village.

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Three years later, he returned to Durgapur when his uncle’s son worked up a Kolkata connection and Akash joined the United Club in the CAB first division league. It was not easy to transform from a tennis ball cricketer to a performer in serious cricket.
At the Vision 2020 programme, former Bengal pacer Ranadeb Bose worked with Akash and a year later he got picked for the Bengal U-23 side. During that time, he suffered a career-threatening back injury and erstwhile Bengal U-23 head coach Sourasish Lahiri looked after his rehabilitation.
The youngster made his Ranji Trophy debut in 2019.Akash was soon included in the Royal Challengers Bangalore squad for the second phase of the 2021 IPL in the UAE. Next year he replaced injured Shivam Mavi in India’s squad for the 2022 Asian Games.
“He can bowl at the same pace for 8-10 overs. His stock delivery is inswinger but because he has superb wrist position and gets deliveries to straighten as well,” a member of Bengal team management said.

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