Making progress all-round

Personality: Shubhang Hegde is swiftly rising up the age-group ranks

Making progress all-round
Shy, soft spoken and oblivious to the attention around him, Shubhang Hedge lets his performances to do the talking.

The Bengaluru boy has taken giant strides with this focused approach. The left-arm spinning all-rounder has dominated age-group cricket for two straight years and it is his staggering consistency that stands out.

Shubhang, who made his U-19 debut for Karnataka last season, was the cynosure at the Karnataka State Cricket Association annual awards this year. He walked away with the best bowler awards in three tournaments – the U-16 Group I, Division I for the KSCA Cup, U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy and the U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy. That Shubhang bagged the highest number of awards (four) last year only reinstates the amount of talent he possesses.

In the U-16 Group I, Division I tournament for the KSCA Cup, Shubhang was the leading wicket-taker with 68 scalps. He was not far behind in the batting department, scoring 672 runs to finish third in the list of run-getters.

Shubhang held the top spot in the bowling section of the U-19 inter-club tournament (knockout), bagging 12 wickets. His all-round abilities were on display as well, as he scored 235 runs to be third in the overall list. 

Starting his association with cricket under the guidance of his father turned to be ideal for Shubhang. Samarth Hegde, a former U-20 State player, taught his son the basics from the age of eight.

“Shubhang began his cricket training in the Karnataka Institute of Cricket (KIOC) where I am one of the coaches. He would train under me and was later mentored by senior coach Irfan Sait,” says Samarth.

With the Jawans Cricket Club for the past two years, Shubhang has managed to extend his good show to the State side. In the Vijay Merchant trophy, he was one of the bright spots in an otherwise ordinary tournament for Karnataka. With 43 wickets, including five five-wicket hauls, Shubhang was fourth in the wicket-takers’ table.

Success has been coming thick and fast for Shubhang and his joy knew no bounds when he was selected as one of the net bowlers for the Indian team prior to the second Test against Australia in Bengaluru. It was an invaluable experience, feels Shubhang.

“Bowling to players of such calibre was a great feeling. It was good to see how national players prepare prior to a match.”

The 16-year-old idolises New Zealand’s left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori, who is the coach of Royal Challengers Bangalore. Picked for RCB’s practice games, Shubhang got the opportunity to perform under the watchful eyes of his idol this month.

“He is my role model. Though I didn’t get a chance to interact with him, it was good to play in front of him,” he says.

Making an impact in almost every match he plays has become a habit for Shubhang and among his many memorable moments, he picks his U-19 State debut as his best. “I bagged a five-wicket haul on my debut against Jharkhand in the Cooch Behar trophy and that will always remain special,” he says.

Sudhindra Shinde, Shubhang’s U-16 State coach, feels he is a strong player mentally.
“I have seen him since his U-14 days and one aspect that has impressed me the most is his stable mind. He never lets match situations create pressure on him. His maturity is way ahead of his age.

“When he started playing league cricket, we felt his action could be corrected for better results. But we decided to wait for the season to end. Shubhang, however, was keen on correcting it as early as possible and he came up to me to tell me that he was ready to make it better. That showed how serious he was about his game,” says Shinde.

Shubhang’s father seconds Shinde’s opinion. “He suffered a displacement fracture in his leg during the RCB practice game recently. But the way he handled the injury showed his mental strength. He has not let the injury affect him and he is confident of being fit when the new season begins,” Samarth says.

An active cricketing career at a young age demands a proper balancing of education as well. “Till the ninth standard, he studied in Vidyaniketan school, which has the ICSE syllabus. Last year we shifted him to Delhi Public School (South), where he will have to study the CBSE syllabus. As he dedicates most of his time to cricket, we felt an easy syllabus will help him handle pressure. He has written his 10th standard exams this year and we are hopeful of him earning a good percentage,” says Samarth, whose wife Maithri is an ayurvedic doctor and yoga practitioner.

Currently Shubhang’s life revolves only around cricket but the youngster says during his leisure time, he loves watching movies. His budding career has seen many highs and Shubhang now looks at the future with confidence.

“To be part of the India U-19 team is my next goal and I am working hard to achieve it,” he says.

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