When the Indian Under 19 cricket team was down and out in the Under 19 Asia Cup Finals against Bangladesh, having bowled out for a paltry 106, a touch of magic and brilliance was required. There came a lean left-arm spinner and took the game away from Bangladesh with his memorable 28/5.
It is not only this gritty man-of-the-match quality spell by Atharva Ankolekar, which makes him a player to look out for. The Mumbaikar had a phenomenal tournament, scalping 12 wickets at an average of mare 6.66. He took three or more wickets in three consecutive games against Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.
Atharva had a tough journey and against all odds, the left-arm spinner tumbled teams after teams with his talent. His father – late Vinod Ankolekar was a BEST employee in the supply department and was a local cricketer as well. He worked in the night shift to keep himself available to help Atharva in the day. Vinod passed when Atharva was just 10. Atharva’s mother, who was given her husband’s job later and, then helped Atharva in pursuing his father’s dream.
“His father was determined to make him a top cricketer. He took a night shift so that he could take Atharva to coach in the morning. He stood there observing his son train and then in the evening after coming home played with him to make sure he implemented what was taught to him in the coaching session. After that, he left for his work at 10 pm in the night. He had dedicated all his life for his kids,” Vaidehi, Atharva’s mother was quoted as saying by Scroll.in.
“Coach Aru Pai at the PTVA academy supported him the most. He used to take him home after training, feed him and also drop him at the practice in the evening. During Diwali, he gave him gifts and bought crackers for him. I can never forget how people have chipped in to make sure Atharva’s growth as a cricketer never stopped,” she added.
Atharva wants his mother to leave the conductor job and take up something less taxing, like teaching. “I don’t want my mother to continue her job. I want her to teach, let me do all the hard work,” Atharva had said before the tournament.
After his brilliant performance at the recently concluded Under 19 Asia Cup, Atharva was awarded a place in Mumbai’s Vijay Hazare Squad.