India U-19 cricket hero Atharva's bus conductor mum over the moon

Updated: Sep 15, 2019, 17:48 IST | Subodh Mayure | Mumbai

Bus conductor Vaidehi Ankolekar reaches Andheri home in time to watch left-arm spinner son's match-winning fifer in under-19 Asia Cup final against Bangladesh in Colombo

Atharva Ankolekar in the final v Bangladesh. Pics/ BCCI,ACC
Atharva Ankolekar in the final v Bangladesh. Pics/ BCCI,ACC

By the time India's Atharva Ankolekar arrived at Colombo's R Premadasa Stadium to take on Bangladesh in the U-19 Asia Cup final against Bangladesh on Saturday, his mother Vaidehi, a BEST bus conductor, was on Route 334 duty from Marol to Ghatkopar in Mumbai.

While Vaidehi had one eye on handing out tickets to her passengers, the other was on her mobile phone, following the scores after India were put in to bat.

Vaidehi raised her sons, Atharva,18 and Parth, 13 single-handedly after their father Vinod, also a BEST employee, passed away in 2010 due to malaria.

India were bowled out for a paltry 106 runs in 32.4 overs. "I was totally off-mood. I almost gave up on them winning the final as the target was quite easy," she said. Her slim hopes of winning the final were pinned on Atharva's left-arm spin. After requesting her seniors to let her leave an hour early from work, Vaidehi managed to reach her Andheri home just in time for Atharva's first over [11th over of the innings]. Atharva struck in his very first over.

She witnessed a thrilling final as Atharva, who claimed 5-28, and pacer Akash Singh (3-12) played crucial roles in bundling out Bangladesh for 101 in 33 overs to clinch the final by five runs. "I reached home on time when Bandya [Atharva's nickname] was bowling his first over. After watching him take three wickets, I was hoping for another two. I am glad it happened that way. I am really proud of my son," an emotional Vaidehi told mid-day.

Vaidehi Ankolekar
Vaidehi Ankolekar

Atharva's father represented BEST in inter-office cricket tournaments and played for Jolly Cricketers in the Kanga League. Vaidehi did not let her husband's death come in way of fulfilling his dream of making their sons cricketers. It wasn't easy though, managing things from a small room in an Andheri (East) chawl. "I had no job [after my husband passed away]. I started teaching immediately and I wanted Bandya to have proper coaching, so I mortgaged my two gold bangles to pay for his annual coaching fees of R14,000. A few months after my husband's death, I got a call from the BEST, who offered me a job. That helped me get a regular income," she said.

The proud mother did not forget to thank Atharva's coaches. "Whatever he is today is because of his coaches Suren Ahire sir [at Parle Tilak Vidyalaya] and Prashant Shetty sir [at MIG Cricket Club]," she said.

Atharva thrilled with final show against Bangladesh

U-19 win
India players after the U-19 Asia Cup win

UNDER-19 Asia Cup final's Man of the Match, Atharva Ankolekar was thrilled to put up his best show in the all-important game on Saturday. Atharva, who claimed 12 wickets in the tournament, ended with figures of 8-2-28-5 to successfully defend India's 106 total on Saturday. "We had faith in our bowling. I am delighted that I dished out my best performance in this crucial game," Atharva told mid-day.

Atharva has a surprise for his younger brother Parth, who also a left-arm spinner and is part of the Mumbai U-14 set up.

"I have purchased a pair of shoes for him. I want to provide him everything which I could not get,"
he said.

12
No. of wickets claimed by Atharva in the U-19 Asia Cup

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