Teens who lost their way

Mumbai teen Pranav Dhanawade was the talk of cricketing world and the toast of a cricket-crazy nation following his epic 1009 in an inter-school tournament on Tuesday, the first four-figure score in the history of the game at any level. The knock left behind by some distance the Arthur Edward Jeune Collins’ unbeaten 628 made when the Englishman was all of 13.

Mind-numbing as Pranav’s innings was, one couldn’t help but think about several teen prodigies that fell by the wayside or failed to live up to their promised potential.

Mumbai, which keeps producing batsmen of exceptional teen talent, has seen a handful of them lost to cricket, the most recent one being Rohan Tondulkar who shot to fame after scoring 357 in the Harris Shield in 2005, breaking Vinod Kambli’s tournament record of 349.

Tondulkar, whose surname sounds quite similar to India’s most famous cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, couldn’t bear the pressure of expectations and was soon struggling to come close to his famous feat, let alone matching it.

As you dig deep, you will see that for every Tendulkar there are several Tondulkars. 

Disappointing story

Another disappointing story is that of two Hyderabad boys -- B Manoj Kumar and Mohamad Shaibaaz Tumbi -- who broke the partnership record of Sachin Tendulkar and Vinod Kambli. Playing for St Peter’s High School, Manoj and Tumbi stitched together an undefeated 721 runs for the opening stand against St Phillips at Secunderabad, eclipsing the long-standing unbeaten record of 664 for the third wicket between Tendulkar and Kambli for Sharadashram Vidyamandir against St Xavier’s in 1987-88.

Just two years after this stand, people in Hyderabad began to hear less and less about the two boys. No one knows where Manoj is now while Tumbi sporadically turns up to play league cricket.

Even Kambli didn’t realise his full potential though the reasons for his fall from grace were largely self-inflicted.

Closer home, Deepak Chougule couldn’t live up to the buzz he created as a teen when the Belagavi lad scored an unbeaten 400 in a Karnataka’s Sportstar Trophy under-13 tournament match against Goa in 1997. The right-hander did play for Karnataka in Ranji Trophy with reasonable success but his knock as a 13-year-old raised expectations so high that he couldn’t meet them.

Other Mumbai school boys who reeled off big scores in recent times -- Armaan Jaffer (473 and 498), Sarfaraz Khan (439), Prithvi Shaw (546) -- fortunately are continuing in the same vein. Jaffer and Sarfaraz are in fact part of India’s team for the forthcoming U-19 World Cup. One only hopes the destiny takes Pranav on Tendulkar’s path rather than Tondulkar’s.

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