Sachin Dhas is playing his father’s dream – live in Benoni


Back in the 1990s, pretty much every cricket-loving Indian was a Sachin Tendulkar fan. Sanjay Dhas was among them – even missing ten balls of a Tendulkar innings seemed like “a crime” to him. He tried to become a cricketer, but it wasn’t to be. He turned to kabaddi instead and represented his state, Maharashtra, at the national level. He also started a cricket academy in Beed, a small town.

He knew, he says, that if he had a son, he would be called “Sachin” and he would play cricket.

“Sachin” became a reality in 2005. You may not know whom we are talking about if you haven’t been keeping track of the ongoing Under-19 World Cup in South Africa. Sachin Dhas has scores of 26*, 21*, 20, 15, 116 and 96 in the tournament and is going into the final against Australia as one of India’s in- form batters. He is the third highest run-scorer at the World Cup – behind team-mates Musheer Khan and Uday Saharan – with 294 runs at an average of 73.50 and a strike rate of 116.66.

“Even before he was born, I had decided he would be a cricketer and nothing else,” Sachin’s father Sanjay tells ESPNcricinfo. “I would have done anything for that to happen. When he was just over two years of age, I gave him a bat and a ball and would take him to the ground in the mornings. By four or so, he was at the academy. I knew he had to start early if he was to make it big. I wanted him to achieve what I couldn’t.”

By 2009-2010, Sachin was at the Adarsh Cricket Academy run by a gentleman called Azhar Sheikh. “There were 60-70 kids at the academy, but Sachin was different,” Sheikh says. “Whatever you taught him, he would learn it quicker than the others. He was disciplined. He would play 500-600 balls in the morning and 700-800 balls in the evening. The bowlers would get tired, but he never complained.”

He moved up the ranks. By 12, he was playing for the Maharashtra Under-14s.

“When he played for the state Under-14s, even his mother [Surekha] was convinced that Sachin would go far as a cricketer,” Sanjay says. “Prior to that, she wasn’t happy about him playing cricket and wanted him to focus on his studies. She felt that no-one from a small place like Beed could become a cricketer. But I didn’t listen to her.”

It’s true that Beed hardly had any facilities for cricket at the time. There was just one ground in the region, and cricket was taught there on a matting wicket. The Maharashtra age-group selectors saw Sachin play and were impressed, but told Sanjay that to get better, Sachin needed to play on turf pitches.

Sanjay was on the job immediately. He got around INR 6-7 lakh from relatives and friends, took permission from the authorities, and prepared a turf pitch at the ground.

Sachin’s progress was unhindered. After the Under-14s, he played for Maharashtra Under-16s at the age of 14, and the Under-19s at 16.

It still wasn’t enough. Sanjay felt that for Sachin to get to the next level, he needed to play around 1200-1400 balls every day, but not spoil the training of the other kids in the process. So he demolished an old family home and converted it into an indoor training area. Roof – check. Floodlights – check. Synthetic turf – check. Bowling machine – check. From that point on, Sachin trained at the academy in the morning and at the indoor facility in the evening.

The results are now showing. In the Under-19 World Cup semi-final, when South Africa’s short-ball attack was causing problems for the other India batters, Sachin was untroubled – his 96 from 95 balls from No. 6, and his 171-run stand with captain Uday Saharan which lifted India from 32 for 4 to 203 for 5, was evidence of that.

The most impressive of Sachin’s shots during that innings was the short-arm pull, which he used to hit five boundaries in the midwicket region. Even during the century against Nepal in the Super Six stage, it was one of his most productive strokes.

“Till eight days before he went to South Africa, Sachin was training with me. I took a steel plate and placed it on a back-of-a-length spot, and gave him throwdowns with a plastic ball, making the ball go into his body” Azhar says. “Some of the balls hit him, and initially he played the pull, which sent the ball up rather than long. We discussed keeping the pull down. We did that for two months. Now look, he is playing the short-arm pull like Shubman Gill.”

Like his father, Sachin is a Sachin Tendulkar fan, but his favourite is Virat Kohli. He prefers batting at No. 4 (like Tendulkar and Kohli in Tests) but was given the role of finisher at the World Cup. He has done justice to it so far.

“It’s because of the name that he is doing so well – it’s like god’s [Sachin’s] hand is working for my son,” Sanjay says. “Hope he plays for India one day.” For now, there’s the [U-19] World Cup final to win, like Kohli did [in 2008], and then, who knows how far this Sachin will go.



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