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Rediff.com  » Cricket » How mum's belief shaped Akash's career despite adversity

How mum's belief shaped Akash's career despite adversity

Source: PTI
February 23, 2024 17:16 IST
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'If his father and brother were alive today, they would be brimming with joy. This is the life's most memorable day and only few are lucky to see it. I'm the proudest mom on this earth.'

Akash Deep's mother Ladumma Devi blesses him as his nieces look on

IMAGE: Akash Deep's mother Ladduma Devi blesses him as his nieces look on, after getting his Test cap in Ranchi on Friday. Photograph: BCCI

Laduma Devi was busy overseeing the construction of their family house in Baddi village of Bihar's Rohtas district when she received a call from Akash Deep on Thursday. "Ma, I'm making my Test debut for India tomorrow, you have to come".

Hours later, after a gruelling 300km road journey, she was at Ranchi's JSCA stadium, watching with pride and tears in her eyes as head coach Rahul Dravid handed the coveted cap to the pacer, who made an immediate impression with three top-order England wickets in the ongoing fourth Test.

 

The shy but stoic woman was soaking it all in with Akash Deep's two nieces and his cousin Baibhaw Kumar providing her support in the emotionally overwhelming moment. She and the family had been through hell and back but Akash Deep was finally making it all count.

"His father always wished for him to become a government officer, but cricket was his true passion, and I was his partner in crime. I would secretly send him to play cricket and help him pursue his dream," the proud mother told PTI as she watched her son make a sensational debut.

"During that time, if someone heard that your son was playing cricket, they would say 'yeh toh awara mawwali hi banega (he is spoilt and will become a rogue).' But we had the faith in him and didn't let him give up despite losing my malik (husband) and beta (son) in six months," she said, pain still apparent in her shaky voice as she grappled with a surge of emotions.

Akash Deep hugs his mother Ladduma Devi  

IMAGE: Akash Deep hugs his mother Ladduma Devi. Photograph: BCCI

Akash Deep's father Ramji Singh, a physical education teacher in a Government High School, never wanted him to become a cricketer. He was paralysed after retirement and was bed-ridden for five years before breathing his last in February 2015.

In October of the same year, Akash Deep's elder brother Dhiraj died on his way to a hospital in Varanasi following brief illness. He was survived by his wife and two daughters.

"If his father and brother were alive today, they would be brimming with joy. This is the life's most memorable day and only few are lucky to see it. I'm the proudest mom on this earth," Laduma Devi said, tears rolling down her eyes.

"Sab bolte hain, 'padhoge likhoge banoge nawab; kheloge, kudoge banoge kharab'. Yeh toh ulta ho gaya. (There is a saying in Hindi which goes, 'those who study become kings, and those who play end up spoilt'. But it's the opposite in our case)."

The 27-year-old was as self-assured as a seasoned pro as he blew away the English top order in the first hour's play to leave the visitors reeling at 112/5 at lunch.

There were no nerves to be seen, and why would there be, Akash Deep had known and handled bigger challenges than England's 'Bazball' much earlier in life.

Akash Deep picked three wickets on his Test debut, all three wickets coming in the first session of play on Day 1 of the 4th Test in Ranchi

IMAGE: Akash Deep picked three wickets on his Test debut, all three wickets coming in the first session of play on Day 1 of the 4th Test in Ranchi. Photograph: BCCI

With the family reliant on his father's monthly pension, he had thought of giving up his passion for cricket and focus on finding a stable income.

The youngest among six siblings with three elder sisters, Akash Deep briefly dabbled in the sand selling business by renting dumpers near Sone river at the Bihar-Jharkhand border after Dhiraj's death.

He would also play tennis ball cricket at that time and needed a helping hand to keep his cricketing dream alive.

His cousin Baibhaw, whose father works at Durgapur Steel Plant allowing him access to coaching in leather ball cricket, proved to be just the man.

"I always felt he was god-gifted and I took him to Durgapur where we got his passport made and he went on to play a tournament in Dubai," Baibhaw recalled.

The the duo landed in Kolkata in search of better opportunities and stayed in a rented flat in Kestopur.

But the move saw Akash Deep face rejection by three clubs -- United CC, YMCA and the famous Kalighat.

"They said to wait for one more year as their team was out. I thought he would go back. But UCC called him one day saying they would play him without any pay," Baibhaw said.

Akash Deep after Bengal won the Irani Cup in 2022-23 

IMAGE: Akash Deep after Bengal won the Irani Cup in 2022-23. Photograph: Kind courtesy Akash Deep/Instagram

Akash Deep's rise started from UCC as he grabbed 42 wickets in his maiden season in Kolkata Maidan (2017-18).

He subsequently got a chance in the CK Nayudu Trophy for Bengal, which went on to win that year.

He was also picked as a net bowler for Rajasthan Royals in the IPL that was held in the UAE during the COVID-19 disruption and was eventually signed by RCB.

After fetching an IPL contract, the family's financial position improved considerably and a three-storied house is currently under construction that keeps his mother busy these days.

"He is not only a good bowler but a handy lower-order batter and can develop into a good all-rounder. I'm so happy for him, they have seen the worst and happy days are here for the family now," Baibhaw concluded.

Saurasish Lahiri, a former Bengal coach who has seen Akash Deep closely, predicted a long run for India's newest pace sensation.

"In Indian conditions I would rate him after (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami, and ahead of Siraj.

"He is pinpoint accurate, he got the reverse and he has got the pace to beat the bat both outside and inside edge. It's absolutely a proud moment for all of us in Bengal," Lahiri added.

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