West Zone tournament: Atharva fights all odds to succeed

Batsman, who played a key role in Mumbai U-14's title triumph in the West Zone tournament yesterday, has overcome great hardships to keep his cricketing dream alive

Mumbai: Atharva Ankolekar played a crucial role in Mumbai U-14’s West Zone title triumph at the Wankhede yesterday.

Atharva Ankolekar. Pic/Atul Kamble
Atharva Ankolekar. Pic/Atul Kamble 

Batting overnight on 71, the southpaw cracked 117 while his partner Hashir Dafedar slammed 184 as the hosts put on 461 on the final day of the match. Maharashtra, who had scored 320 in the first innings, were playing at 23-1 in their second innings when play was mutually called off by both skippers after finishing the mandatory overs.

And expectedly, Hashir and Atharva were the most sought after players in the Mumbai camp after yesterday’s victory. For Atharva, it was triumph over all odds. Two years ago his life was in total disarray. The 13-year-old lost his father due to malaria. Just as Atharva, his younger brother and his mother were coming to terms with the loss of the sole breadwinner, they were shunted out of the house by their extended family.

They now live in a small, dingy room in Andheri (East). His mother takes tuitions at home while the Shivaji Park Youngsters along with Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) Managing Committee member Naveen Shetty take care of Atharva’s cricketing needs so that his cricket is not hampered.

The victorious U-14 Mumbai team celebrates after beating Maharashtra in the final at Wankhede Stadium. Pic/Suresh KK
The victorious U-14 Mumbai team celebrates after beating Maharashtra in the final at Wankhede Stadium. Pic/Suresh KK

“It was a very difficult phase. It was unexpected. I don’t know what exactly happened, but that (tragic incident) left us in shock. I am thankful for all the help I have been getting to continue my cricket. I like this sport and want to do well.

I am very happy to have scored a century today and helped my team win,” Atharva, who studies at Parle Tilak Vidyalaya, told MiD DAY. Atharva is also known for his left-arm spin bowling in inter-school cricket, but went wicketless in this match. Prakash Kelkar, Shivaji Park Youngsters’ cricket secretary, said the club helps Atharva with the kit, coaching and practice facilities.

“We are doing our bit for him. Naveen Shetty deposits around Rs 12,000 every month in his mother’s bank account. He is a talented boy and has the potential to excel if supported well,” Kelkar said. Meanwhile, yesterday’s U-14 title would have brought a huge relief to the MCA after none of its other age-group teams managed to win anything
this season.

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