Saumya Pandey: The cricketer who used to cry thinking about becoming something else

He comes from a home where success in education was highly sought after, but he knew from the beginning that this was not the path he wanted to take.

Daya Sagar12-February-2024 • 42 minutes ago

Soumi Pandey ends Under-19 World Cup with 18 wickets ICC/Getty Images

Saumya Pandey He was brought up in a household where education was emphasized. His parents are teachers at an intermediate college a short distance from their home in a small town called Bharatpur in Madhya Pradesh. His sister is preparing for the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) exam, and his maternal uncle and aunt are officers in the PCS (Provincial Civil Services).

When he was a child, cricket was on the television at home only by chance. When he was about five years old, his family priest predicted – like his learned relatives – that Soumi would excel in his studies and become a doctor or engineer. However, hearing this, Soumi started crying: despite all the focus around him on academics, he was already into cricket and wanted to make a career in it.

Fast forward a decade and a half, and now the whole family gathers together – with planning, not by chance – to watch cricket. He wanted to see his own Soumi bowling left-arm spin in the Under-19 World Cup in South Africa, where India finished runners-up over the weekend. ended as saumi Joint second highest wicket takerHe scored only 18 runs in seven innings in the tournament at an average of 10.27 and an economy rate of 2.68. This was the best bowling performance for India in the Under-19 World Cup – Soumi surpasses it Ravi BishnoiNumber 17 from the 2020 edition.

“Like any child, we used to buy a lot of toys for him but Soumya only played with a plastic bat and ball,” his father Krishna Kumar told ESPNcricinfo. “We didn't even realize when he got involved. When our family priest gave his prophecy, Soumya broke down and said, 'I only want to be a cricketer.' And see, now he is representing India.”

Soumi was physically weak during her childhood, often falling ill with colds, flu, even pneumonia. Seasonal weather changes made him regularly ill. During one of these visits, a doctor, while prescribing medications, asked Kumar to involve his son in some kind of physical activity. And so Kumar decides to enroll Soumya in cricket classes. However, there were no proper cricket facilities in Bharatpur, so Kumar moved with his family to the neighboring town of Rewa and put Soumi in Ariel Anthony's Vindhya Cricket Academy, which has produced players such as Pooja Vastrakar, Ishwar Pandey, -Kuldeep Sen And Nuzhat Parveen,

Soumi Pandey with her childhood coach Aryl Antony aryl antony

“Soumi came to me when he was seven or eight years old,” says Anthony. “He was very quick and picked up things very quickly. He was serious about his game and also disciplined. Even when I was traveling with the senior team, he would train with the same seriousness and discipline. He was inclined towards bowling from the beginning and also tried variations. He had talent and progressed slowly. ,

Anthony says that when 15-year-old Soumya was in the Under-16 circuit, then MP selector Kirti Patel named him in the list of 30 probables for the state's Ranji Trophy team. Soumi took over 100 wickets in the Under-16s that season, and even though the Ranji debut did not happen, he made the transition to the senior division.

In the recent Under-19 World Cup, 12 of Soumya's 18 wickets were LBW or bowled, mostly on good length balls. With his disciplined, stump-to-stump left-arm spin, some in the cricket world have already started drawing comparisons with India's star all-rounder. Ravindra Jadeja,

“He has variations that he uses by coming from different angles and not just changing his line and length,” says Anthony. “He knows when to go outside the crease, when to bowl close to the stumps, when to fly the ball over the wicket and when to bowl flat around the wicket. He has a simple action and along with taking wickets, he also knows how to stop the flow of runs.

Both Anthony and Kumar do not encourage comparisons with Jadeja, pointing out that Soumya still has a long way to go and the Under-19 World Cup is only the first step. Due to her success in the World Cup, Soumya also received some offers from IPL teams to become a net bowler in their preparation camps, but she turned them down after consulting her father and her coach. Kumar says that Soumya should aim to make it to first-class cricket before going to IPL and the coach is with him in this matter.

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