It was a tough U-19 Asia final between India and Bangladesh in Colombo on Saturday. India batted first and made a mediocre score of 106 as Bangladesh bowlers bowled really well to keep the Indians in check. However, Indian bowlers started on a good note but they needed a superhero who could change the fortunes for the team in the need of the hour and then came 18-year-old Atharva Ankolekar.
India bowled out Bangladesh for 101 in 33 overs and Atharva Ankolekar performed miraculously with figures of 5/28 in eight overs. In the run-up to the U-19 Asia Cup final against Bangladesh at the R Premadasa Stadium, Atharva, the left-arm orthodox spinner had been one of India’s stand-out performers in the tournament.
He is only 18 and had a lot of struggle in his life to reach where he’s now. He’s studying commerce at a city college. He lost his father when he was only 10 years old, the man who inspired and motivated him to play cricket.
His mother was later given her husband’s job as a conductor with Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) in Mumbai. His mother raised him all by herself and then helped him pursue his father’s dream.
Atharva’s first outing versus Kuwait brought him zero wickets in a five-over spell. However, he bounced back by accumulating three or more wickets in three consecutive games against Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh (in the final). His five-wicket haul in the finals earned him the man of the match award. He finished the competition with 12 wickets at an economy of 2.96.
It was Ankolekar’s valiant spell in the final that led India to the U-19 Asia Cup title. He truly wrote a new success story for himself by brightening it with some amazing performances.