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Updated: September 28, 2011 17:29 IST

Will and the willow

ARUN VENUGOPAL
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IN COMFORT ZONE B. Aparajith's is handy with bat or ball
IN COMFORT ZONE B. Aparajith's is handy with bat or ball

CRICKET Playing for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy, and for the country one day… these are just a couple of 17-year-old all-rounder B. Aparajith's cherished dreams

B. Aparajith says he doesn't usually set goals. Even as one wonders what would have led to such a mindset, he continues, “Setting goals restricts me.” The statement is striking for it is not so much a proud declaration as a succinct display of raging ambition.

Aparajith's robust performances over the last couple of years have been rewarded with a berth in the India under-19 team for the ongoing quadrangular series in Vishakapatnam involving, apart from the host, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Australia (At the time of writing this, Aparajith had picked five wickets for 38 runs against Australia U-19).

A dream run in the Buchi Babu tournament this year saw Aparajith pile up 245 runs at an average of 81.67. The 17-year-old's all-round showing in the Chennai first division league has furthered his cause as well.

Early start

Aparajith picked up the willow when he was four-and-a-half years old, and after a little more than a decade now, his childhood pastime has become a full-time obsession.

“My father enrolled me at a coaching camp and at that age I didn't know the seriousness with which cricket was played. Over a period of time, I understood the working of the game. I decided that cricket was going to be my life,” notes Aparajith.

While his tutelage initially was under A. H. Srikanth and G. Balaprasad of Fine Star Cricket Academy, former Railways cricketer S. Balaji has been his long-standing personal coach. A Class XII student of St. Bede's AIHS, Aparajith currently trains at the academy there. “My school has backed me completely in my cricketing endeavours.”

Besides being a fine opener, Aparajith is an off-spinner of considerable merit. “I consider myself an all-rounder. My role as a batsman or a bowler depends on the team's requirement,” says Aparajith, who received the M. A. Chidambaram Trophy for best under-16 cricketer earlier this year.

Hungry for runs

His mental strength, Aparajith believes, is something that has improved with experience. “These days, I am not satisfied with whatever I score. I have become hungry for runs.”

Playing for Vijay CC, Aparajith rubs shoulders with the likes of R. Ashwin and S. Badrinath. “They are very professional. Despite their stature, they go about their work with utmost diligence.”

Fellow offie Ashwin has also taught the shy youngster a few tricks of the trade. “He asked me to use the body more and impart greater revolutions to the ball.”

Aparajith has fond memories of his stint with Indian Bank. “There were so many youngsters in the team and the camaraderie was great.”

Speaking of his bond with twin Indrajith, a competent player himself, Aparajith feels there was never a conscious attempt to outdo each other. “We complemented each other's games. Both of us just wanted to do well.”

Aparajith is thankful to his parents, both of whom are doctors, for fuelling his sporting ambitions. “There was never any pressure on me to study. Cricket was my priority and they realised that.”

Even as representing India remains his cherished dream, Aparajith has a few things to look forward to in the immediate future. “I am looking forward to playing in the Ranji Trophy. Hopefully, I can earn myself a place in the Tamil Nadu team,” he smiles.

Factfile

* Favourite book: Steve Waugh's autobiography “Out of My Comfort Zone”

* Favourite pastime: Spending time with my family (“I am not a very outdoor person”)

* Other sports: “I play table tennis occasionally.”

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