The very atmosphere was inspiring: Niraj

Written by: Suresh Parekh
Published: Thursday, September 7, 2000, 16:30 [IST]
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The emergence of the National Cricket Academy has done a world of good for Niraj Patel, the brightest hope of Gujarat cricket. He was the key player of the under 19 World Cup winning team and caught the attention of all and sundry in the Challenger Trophy early this year.

He returned to Ahemadabad after three months of vigorous training and practice under the watchful eyes of Hanumant Singh and Vasu Paranjpe. His prowess with the bat and the ball also impressed the likes of Gavaskar and Bishen Bedi as both voiced a good future for the lad.

Talking about his experience at Bangalore, Niraj Patel told Thatscricket.com that it was fantastic. There were fixed sessions for everything. There were sessions for yoga, fielding, nets, and even lectures from psychiatrists at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre.

The very atmosphere was inspiring. Coach Hanumant Singh was quite up to the mark and he left no stone unturned for all of us. He was very strict and whenever there were rains our practice never stopped, as we continued to practice indoors, where artificial turf pitches were made available.

Lodging and boarding facilities too were excellent. Niraj was, in particular, very happy to have received a few words of advice from India's two finest exponents in the art of batting and bowling, Sunil Gavaskar and Bishen Bedi respectively.

Sunil told him not to worry much about the technique and emphasised more on consistency and getting runs all the time. Niraj himself has improved his pulls, hooks and square cuts in the nets and Hanumant Singh was very insistent that he should play better shots against the short-pitched stuff.

Bishen Bedi who also saw Niraj bowling left-arm spin soon came up with a few tips. Bedi found his action "slightly flawed" and told him that instead of bowling with his body side-on, he would be more effective if he bowled with his body straighter.

Other players like Roger Binny, Rodney Marsh, Kirmani, Prasanna and Venkataraghavan also made a few points to Niraj and the rest of the boys when they visited the Academy.

A first year Art student, Niraj Patel indeed is a much better player after his stint in Bangalore. How much of it will help him and how much of it has made him a better player will be seen when the season starts in November.

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