Ricky Bhui set a record of sorts for the city when he became the first local player to play for India in front of the home crowd and he made the ongoing under-19 quadrangular series memorable for himself and the city and for that matter Andhra when he made a fine unbeaten 94 as India beat South Africa with more than 10 overs to spare, on Wednesday.

There are just two cricketers from Andhra who represented India at the senior level: M.S.K. Prasad, who played ODIs and Tests and Y. Venugopala Rao, in ODIs. Many players from Visakhapatnam and Andhra represented the country but no senior or junior player played for India at a venue in Andhra. Ricky Bhui thus became the first player to be seen in action for the Indian team.

Wednesday’s match was his fourth for India youth team. He played two matches in Sri Lanka and could not score many runs in his first match in the quadrangular series here but in the second match on Wednesday, he came out with a sterling knock. He might have missed the century by just six runs but the knock was worth more than that considering the situation the team was in when he went in to bat with the team tottering at 47 for three.

He started the rescue act with Shreyas Iyer and Sarfraz Khan who joined him with the score at 93 for four, few believed that India could walk away with a win.

Sarfraz started a blitz against the South African bowling and Ricky, cautious initially, went for bowling. Soon spectators believed that India would be winning the match and it did win, Ricky hoisting a six to complete the victory.

Enthusiastic spectators hung around the Indian dressing room to shake hands with him and take his autograph.

Seventeen-year-old Ricky Bhui was delighted and talking about his innings told The Hindu that there was pressure initially, because the target was big and South Africa was good bowling side.

“But I knew that I can play well if I could overcome the burden and I can do it with a cool head”.

‘Thrilling moment’

“It is a thrilling moment. Playing for India, on my home ground and chasing a big total successfully”. He was run out in the first match of the series when there was a chance to score well against Zimbabwe. However, he was happy that he scored a good knock against a better opposition.

Ricky Bhui’s father is a businessman and mother is a housewife. His sister is doing MBBS in Bangalore.

“My parents support me a lot, though they don’t come to watch my game”, said Ricky Bhui, who expressed his gratitude to the coach, captain and team mates for continuously supporting him and the ACA and VDCA for continuous encouragement.

President of Andhra Cricket Association D.V. Subba Rao, while congratulating Ricky Bhui on his match-winning knock, said: “The local lad did us proud with this knock. We wish him to keep up this tempo and climb up the ladder for higher levels”.

ACA secretary G. Gangaraju showered praises for Ricky Bhui saying that he was sure that the young player would receive more and more laurels not only ACA but also for India.

“In fact this is a great achievement for him to get such a fine knock against South Africa. This will enhance his confidence levels”, Mr. Gangaraju said.