Cricket

Meet Punjab’s ‘Narine’: Village Tennis Cricket in IPL via YouTube

Meet Punjab's 'Narine': Village Tennis Cricket in IPL via YouTube

OF ALL the fascinating paths to an IPL team, the story of Ramesh Kumar is a perfect fairy tale for the age of social media.

Her father repairs shoes, her mother sells bracelets. And the 23-year-old was happy with the meager prize money and little buzz of tennis ball cricket in Punjab when it suddenly went viral on YouTube. The clip of him in action stirred an IPL cricketer who shared it with his coach – and in the blink of an eye Ramesh’s life changed.

Today Ramesh aka ‘Narine Jalalabadiya’ finds himself in Kolkata Knight Riders picked for Rs 20 lakh at IPL auction on Sunday. Just the climax awaits him: a six on the final ball or a Super Over in which he makes six different throws to win the Cup for his team.

While “Narine” refers to West Indian mystery spinner and T20 star Sunil Narine for his ability to conjure up different balls with the same action, the tag “Jalalabadiya” in his internet nickname not only tells his story, but also that of the dreams of his father. .

Twenty-five years ago, Mangu Ram left his hometown of Hanumangarh in Rajasthan in search of a job and a better life for his family, and eventually settled in Jalalabad in the Fazilka district of Punjab. Now his son will rub shoulders with T20 legends in the world’s biggest cricket league.

“I grew up watching the IPL and imitated Sunil Narine. I used to play tennis ball tournaments in Punjab, and my bowling and batting style went viral. A day (March-April last year), someone posted a video of me with the caption ‘Narine Jalalabadiya’, and it got stuck,” Ramesh told The Indian Express.

“Honestly, I don’t know what kind of bowler I am, but I can throw six different pitches with the same action. That’s why I get so many wickets,” he said.

Ramesh could have remained a minor star on the tennis circuit were it not for KKR and Punjab player Gurkeerat Mann. Last year, impressed by a video that reached his phone, Mann shared it with KKR assistant coach and former Mumbai player Abhishek Nayar.

The two were impressed but unsure if the boy in the video could be an effective hardball thrower. Mann called Ramesh at the PCA stadium in Mohali during the Punjab senior team camp. To his pleasant surprise, the boy from Jalalabad was able to replicate his tennis prowess. More bowling videos were shot – this time by Mann himself – and transmitted to Nayar’s phone.

A few days later, Ramesh received a call from an unknown number. “I thought it was a random call for a personal loan from a bank, and why the hell would Abhishek Nayar call me! I was only convinced when Mann paaji told me it was a call from Abhishek Nayar,” he said.

Ramesh’s world was changing.

Mann helped the budding spinner with tips, kits and even got him enrolled in the Minerva Punjab Cricket Academy. Ramesh represented Minerva in the famous Punjab JP Atray cricket tournament and bagged 12 wickets in three matches.

While “Narine” refers to West Indian mystery spinner and T20 star Sunil Narine for his ability to conjure up different balls with the same action, the tag “Jalalabadiya” in his internet nickname not only tells his story, but also that of the migrant dreams of his father. . (PhotoExpress)

He was then selected for the district team, but as Fazilka plays in a minor division of the local Punjab league, Mann helped him move to Kapurthala. Playing for Kapurthala in the Katoch Shield, Punjab’s inter-district tournament, Ramesh sparkled 12 wickets in four matches.

“I owe my life to Mann paaji. He has done so much for me. He’s been a rock to me over the past year. Without him, I would have only played tennis-cricket. He helped me financially…he shot my videos on his phone and still cheers me on,” he said.

Once he successfully transitioned to a cricket ball, Nayar stepped in and called Ramesh to Mumbai for the KKR trials. Last month, as he boarded the plane for Mumbai, his first flight, anxiety gripped him. “I started chanting God’s name and desperately wanted the plane to land somehow,” he said.

Nerves still on edge, “it took me five minutes to open the door to my hotel room”. The next day he went for practice and did everything Nayar asked him to do before taking the flight home.

KKR, meanwhile, aren’t keen on promoting their new signing, but the word from their camp is that Ramesh has potential although there’s a lot of work to do before he’s ready for the big one. league. (PhotoExpress)

“Abhishek sir told me to keep working hard. With the help of Mann paaji, I put my name in the auction this time; I had no idea that I would be chosen. It was a surprise for me when KKR came to pick me up,” he said.

KKR, meanwhile, aren’t keen on promoting their new signing, but the word from their camp is that Ramesh has potential although there’s a lot of work to do before he’s ready for the big one. league.

Their new pick dreams of representing Punjab and playing for India one day, but knows there is a long and difficult way to go. “Cricket is not my passion. It’s my job. I’ve been playing cricket since I was 16. My dad didn’t like me playing cricket all the time, he wanted me to study. But the player of the match award in tennis ball tournaments used to have cash prizes and my goal was always to win it,” he said.

So how is he going to spend his IPL money? “My mother sells bracelets in the villages of Jalalabad. I’m going to open a shop for him and keep the rest for the education of my two young brothers.