Raj Angad Bawa has not seen his grandfather, Tarlochan Singh Bawa, in action with a hockey stick. The legend had played a key role in helping India clinch the gold medal in the 1948 London Olympics.
And growing up, these stories inspired Raj to wear the India jersey, albeit in cricket.
On Friday, the Board of Control for Cricket in India named the batting all-rounder in the India U-19 squad for the Asia Cup, along with his friend Harnoor Singh Pannu – another talented batter from Chandigarh.
A lanky medium-fast bowler and an attacking left-handed batter, Raj fell in love with the sport quite early as he would travel with his father Sukhwinder Singh Bawa, the coach of Yuvraj Singh. “My dad would coach various state teams, and I would travel with him and spend time with the cricketers. I slowly got hooked to the game and eventually took it up seriously,” Raj Angad told Sportstar.
A few years ago, the family shifted from Gurugram to Chandigarh, and Raj joined the coveted DAV Public School and was soon playing regularly for age-group teams. “When Chandigarh got the BCCI affiliation a couple of years ago, I shifted from PCA to UTCA and have represented the team ever since.”
He knows there will be expectations, but he does not let that affect his game. “I was very young when his grandfather passed away in 2008. But yes, it is a great honour to carry the legacy forward. Since my father has been a coach, I have learned a lot from him. That has certainly helped me in my career,” Raj, who is now a student of GGSD College, Chandigarh, said.
While he has only met Yuvraj a couple of times, he idolises the former India cricketer. In the U-19 Challenger Trophy, he scored 154 runs – including a century – and grabbed eight wickets. “I am not thinking too much about next year’s U-19 World Cup. At the moment, the focus is to play well in the Asia Cup,” the youngster said.
Harnoor – the pacer turned-batter
It’s a similar story for Harnoor. His grandfather Rajinder Singh was involved with the game in Punjab, while his father Birinder Singh represented the state at the U-19 level.
Harnoor was the highest scorer in the Challenger Trophy, with 412 runs in his kitty. He also featured in the recently concluded U-19 Tri-series in Kolkata.
Harnoor Singh after scoring a ton. – SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT
“Initially, I was not keen on cricket, but then my grandfather introduced me to the game, and I slowly developed a fondness. That’s how it started,” the 18-year-old Harnoor said.
He started as a fast bowler, but guidance from his grandfather helped him focus on batting. “My grandfather told me that it is important for a cricketer to focus on batting as well, and that’s how I developed an interest,” he said.
His elder brother, who is currently in Canada, too, had played U-19 cricket as a batter, and his tips had also helped Harnoor.
Harnoor, a fan of Shubman Gill, scored three consecutive centuries in the Challengers Trophy, which sealed his berth in the Asia Cup. “I worked on my mindset. I knew that I am among runs, so the only thing was to ensure that I stay focused and take things as they come,” he said.
Both the friends will leave for Bengaluru on Saturday, chasing their dreams.