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Starstruck: Batting against odds, Shaik Rasheed is a star in the making | By Vikram Sathaye

A product of sacrifice and hard work, 17-year-old Shaik Rasheed, the vice-captain of the U19 Indian cricket team was a revelation at the World Cup.

Shaik Rasheed U19 World Cup Vice Captain India

Shaik Rasheed in action at the U19 World Cup (Source: ICC)


Vikram Sathaye

Updated: 2 March 2022 8:57 AM GMT

The story of Shaik Rasheed, India's U-19 cricket star is inspirational, to say the least. Serving as the vice-captain and leading from the front foot alongside Delhi-lad and captain, Yash Dhull, the U-19 World Cup revealed Rasheed as the next big thing to come out of U19 cricket.

After his U-19 sojourn, most expected him to be picked up at the IPL Auctions and a mad frenzy to take place over him but unfortunately since he is still 17 and is yet to debut in first-class cricket, Shaik Rasheed didn't meet the criteria for his bidding at the Auctions, yet.

Just like Yash Dhull was a revelation at the U-19 World Cup and got picked by his home franchise, Delhi Capitals, Shaik Rasheed is also a star-in-the-making, but it hasn't been an easy road for him.

The sacrifices made by Rasheed's father, Shaik Balisha, for him is very similar to Mohammad Siraj's story.

Growing up in Guntur, Andhra Pradesh, Rasheed hails from a town that doesn't teem with a lot of cricket academies but rather, is known for the temples, that dot the city near the coast of the Bay of Bengal.

Finances have always been a crunch for the Shaik family and the cricket dreams that surfaced were not easy to sustain at any point - but is the result of countless sacrifices, a lot of hard work, blood, sweat and tears.

Making Rasheed wield the willow at a very young age after he was inspired by MS Dhoni, Shaik Balisha ensured that his son's dream never died - as he would travel a distance of 50 kilometres every day with Rasheed on his scooter, to the nearest big cricket academy in Mangalgiri.

The wunderkind from the Andhra coast

Yash Dhull and Shaik Rasheed (Source: ICC)

En route to India's lifting of the fifth U19 World Cup, the highest-ever by any side, Shaik Rasheed played an integral role. However, it wasn't easy to get there - Rasheed contracted the COVID-19 virus at the beginning of the tournament, making things all the more uncertain, but the dreams born in Guntur managed to overpower and Rasheed recovered - and stepped up, how!

The 17-year-old rookie batsman from Andhra Pradesh played a match-saving knock of 94 against Australia U-19 in semis. While in the finals, Rasheed's 84-ball half-century was crucial in giving the fitting answer to England in India's chase of 189.

"I owe everything to my father. He never made me feel uncomfortable. Whatever I asked, he always provided despite the financial problems," Rasheed said to Sportstar, all very overwhelmed with the win.

"There was never a thought of quitting cricket because of the poor financial background of my family. My father and I always felt cricket is the way out for us," he said.

My heart swells with pride when I see boys and girls from India's hinterland do so well for the country.

The common thread in any successful sportsperson's journey is the omnipresence of either the parents, coaches, friends or siblings playing the role of the motivator and cheerleader for the athlete.

These are the people who have an undying belief in that particular athlete.

I have seen this with so many young cricketers as well.

It's not easy to stay motivated all the time and especially in crunch times when you need an unconditional team to keep you from falling off the track.

Makes me wonder if we all have such a team in our life?

If not, have we made an effort to cultivate a group like this?

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