CHENNAI: Ever since T Natarajan, who hails from a hamlet in Salem, represented the national side in all formats of the game, there is belief among the youth in the districts that they too can play for India one day. The Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) organised by the TNCA has fulfilled this dream. The stepping stone for districts is the PR Thevar Under-16 tournament. A good performance here is a signal that the player is on track towards his goal of playing for the state. The Chengalpattu U-16 team of the District Cricket Association of Chengalpattu (DCAC) defeated Krishnagiri in the final to bag the PR Thevar trophy. What is commendable is that the newly carved out district managed to win the title on debut.
Skipper M Bharath led by example and marshalled his resources well to fashion the triumph. “It feels really great and proud to have led the team to win the prestigious PR Thevar trophy considering the fact that this is our maiden stint in the U-16 inter-districts tournament as a newly affiliated district. This win is very important for our district not just for the U-16 boys but for the district overall,” said 16-year-old Bharath who is also a wicket-keeper.
The class 11 student of St John’s Public School practises at his school, and plays league matches at his district and in the TNCA league in Chennai. “At St John’s, we have three cricket nets (two matting wickets and one concrete wicket) and a devoted school coach in Karthik who loves and promotes the game. I also have league practise sessions and personally practise with my uncle Murali who is also a cricketer. Moreover, we have a balanced squad and the team lived up to its expectations which I would say is the reason for the team’s success in the inter-district tournament,” shared Bharath who played several vital knocks for his side.
The children from the newly formed district gave a good all-round display with each one chipping in when it mattered most with either bat or ball. “I would personally say that our bowling has been the greatest strength of our team.
Our bowlers had the ability to bundle out any side. The semifinal game against Tiruppur was the hardest to win since they were a high quality side. B Sandeep’s multiple five-wicket hauls, D Deepesh’s 4-wicket haul against Tirupur, S Akash’s 142 against Kancheepuram, A Pranav’s five-wicket haul against Coimbatore were some of the notable performances for us in the tournament. My 50-plus scores in both the innings against Tiruppur and my 161 against Krishnagiri in the final also came in handy for the side,” pointed out Bharath.
Despite the win, Bharath feels that his team needs to work on a few areas. He also wants more boys to play in the Chengalpattu league. “We have to work on our fielding and catching skills. The ability to create partnerships while batting has to be improved too. Kevin sir coached the team until the semifinals. He couldn’t coach us for the final game.
Vignesh sir was assigned as the coach in his absence. His strategies were equally effective which helped us win the final,” said Bharath. “We are playing in the Chengalpattu league and that has exposed us to some quality batting and bowling which has helped us improve our game effectively. We practise at Alstom cricket ground and at another facility. Many of our boys are playing in the TNCA league also. I play in the TNCA 3rd division,” he added.