Hardik turning it in style

MAKING AN IMPACT: Left-arm spinner Hardhik Raj has been a prolific wicket-taker in the last couple of years in the U-14 and U-16 categories. DH Photo Srikanta Sharma R

Hardik Raj is only 12 years old, looks 10 but his feats are already big talking points in Karnataka cricket circles. 

Hardik took to cricket very early in his childhood and as for any other Indian kid, batting was his preferred part of the game. Blame it on lack of opportunities either at 'nets' or in school or his club teams, he tried his hand at bowling. His father C V Rajesh's push towards this direction only encouraged him to take it more seriously. And today, he is one of the most prolific wicket-takers in age-group tournaments.

A one-on-one session with former Karnataka left-arm spinner and current senior state selection committee chairman Raghuram Bhat made Hardik fall in love the craft.

"I had an interaction with Raghuram Bhat sir, and it was quite informative and educative," says Hardik. "He told me what a bowler's mindset should be and also taught me about biomechanics of left-arm spin bowling. It was quite refreshing."  

In 2017-18 season, Hardik claimed a total of 45 wickets 28 matches (both U-14 and U-16 categories). Proving that it wasn't just a fluke, Hardik in this season has already accumulated 46 sticks from 18 matches.

Rajesh has worked tirelessly to shape his son's career. A wannabe cricketer who had to give up on his dream because of financial constraints, he wanted to make sure his son didn't face any such impediments. Having set up a 'nets' with floodlights on the terrace of his home in Rajajinagar, Rajesh trained his son with plastic, tennis and then cricket ball.

And when he realised the potential in Hardik, he enrolled him into Irfan Sait's Karnataka Institute of Cricket for structured training.

A Bishop Cottons Boys School student, Hardik is currently leading his school team in KSCA's B T Ramaiah (under-14) inter-school tournament. 

"I like Ravindra Jadeja," says Hardik when asked about the cricketers he likes the most. "I like everything about his cricket. His bowling, batting and fielding. The energy he brings to the field is amazing. I want to be like him."

That he has his head firmly on his shoulders is reflected in the fact that he doesn't want to be too experimental with his bowling.

"I do try my armour every now and then but other than that I don't try too many variations. I don't think for my age I should be trying too many variations," he signs off.

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Hardik turning it in style

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