During the U-19 Challenger tournament last year, India skipper Uday Saharan wasn’t scoring runs and father Sanjeev was getting anxious as the national selection committee was about to pick the squad for junior Asia Cup.
“I wasn’t in best frame of mind as Uday wasn’t scoring runs, but he would tell me, ‘papa, don’t worry, runs will come’. That’s Uday for you. I am not saying because he is my son but at 19, he can remain uncluttered,” Sanjeev, beaming with joy after his son led India to their fifth consecutive U-19 World Cup final. For the uninitiated, Uday plays national level cricket from Punjab but he hails from Shri Ganganagar district in Rajasthan.
“During matches, he travels from Shri Ganganagar to Bathinda which is a two-hour train journey. He is doing second year B.Com from Bathinda University. It was a friend of my mine, who suggested that Uday be shifted to Fazilka in Punjab for cricket,” the father informed.
Fazilka is also Shubman Gill’s village.
With one hundred and three fifties in six World Cup games so far, Punjab batter Uday is currently the highest run-getter in this edition, and his batting style resembles the 1980s and 90s’ top-order accumulators.
He scores his runs at a strike rate of early 70s, something that he will need to address at senior level. As of now, it is serving the purpose.
“Uday tells me that papa jab single, double pe baat ban jaayegi toh chakka maarne ki kya zaroorat? Chakka maarna hoga toh woh bhi maar lunga (why try for sixes when I can get the job done by taking ones and twos. When the need arises, I will hit sixes too,” said Sanjeev, who is an Ayurvedic doctor and a BCCI Level 1 accredited coach. For him, technique is sacrosanct and he gave an insight into how Uday learnt to play copybook, conventional cricket.
“During my playing days, I represented my district in Rajasthan CA’s biggest tournament Colvin Shield. I was known as ‘Gavaskar’ in my local circuit as bowlers couldn’t breach my defence.
“I have taught Uday the value of technique. And as for IPL game, when he was 16, he scored 108 off 60 balls in a local district match, hitting Arshdeep Singh for sixes,” the father said. How was the mood in the Saharan household on Tuesday night when Uday was in the midst of a tense chase.
“Kya hi bolun. Uday ki didi, meri badi beti toh mandir wale ghar se nikli nahi. Woh toh roney lag gaayi thi. Meri patni ka bhateeje ki shaadi thi lekin woh bhi pura match mandir mein baithi rahi. Hum Pallu Devi maa ko bahot mante hai (My elder daughter and wife prayed the whole time and didn’t step out of the temple at home. My wife didn’t attend the wedding reception of a relative).” So how does it feel when he sees himself as father of an India team captain? “I don’t have words to express that feeling. It is special. I had seen his leadership skills since he was young. When I would take him to the academy and teach him a drill, he would take a lead and teach other trainees. He has always been a responsible boy.” What will be his advice to his son before the final? “Nothing bas cup lekey aa jaayein (Just bring home the cup).