Once upon a time most of the cricketers in the Indian cricket (men’s and women’s) team came from the posh schools in India’s biggest cities. These schools had names like St. Xavier’s, St. Joseph’s, Don Bosco, etc. That era is fading away as kids in the posh schools in big cities spend their lives glued to their phones & ipads. Both the men’s and women’s cricket teams in India now draw their superstars from working class backgrounds – highly driven, talented, hardworking girls & boys, whose parents’ blue collar jobs mean that financing cricket coaching usually maxes out the family’s finances. Mumbai, it would appear, is on its way to producing yet another wunderkind from this highly reliable talent factory which has propelled India’s rise to the top of Test Cricket rankings.
“Vaidehi Ankolekar, a bus conductor with Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) in Mumbai, rushed to her boss at the bus depot in Marol near Andheri on Saturday with a request for an off. The bosses couldn’t say no to her plea as her son Atharva was playing for India in the final of the Under-19 Asia Cup cricket tournament in Colombo in Sri Lanka.
The leave was granted but another problem awaited at home. The cable TV at her house didn’t have the sports channel that was live-telecasting the game. In order to catch the action, Vaidehi hurried to her in-laws place nearby and spent the rest of the day praying for her son. Her prayers didn’t go unanswered.
Atharva, who is a left-arm spinner, starred with a five-wicket haul to enable India beat Bangladesh by five runs in a low-scoring thriller to retain the Asia Cup title. Batting first, India were all out for 106 in 32.4 overs. Atharva ran through Bangladesh’s middle and lower order, including two wickets in what turned out to be the final over of the match. He was adjudged Player of the Match and finished the eight-team tournament as the highest wicket-taker (12)”.
The budding star’s mum is a single mother who has slogged it out as a conductor in Mumbai’s buses for eight years to finance her son’s career: “When Atharva was ten, his father Vinod Ankolekar had passed away. To support her two sons, Vaidehi took up her husband’s job of conductor in BEST…A single mother’s life isn’t easy, of course. “We didn’t have money to buy his cricketing shoes, someone had helped him. Other day Atharva had called and said not to buy shoes for his younger brother (who is part of Mumbai’s under-14 probables). He said he would buy them from the money he got as daily allowance in Sri Lanka,” she added.”

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