Hrithik Bhatia is one step away from representing the UAE Under-19s but the batsman is eager to prove he can also be a deadly wicket-taker – just 10 months after he had initially given up bowling.
The 17-year-old finds himself among the 20 plus players who are all dreaming of making the final 15-man squad for the national team’s Asia Cup qualifiers in October.
His impressive runs tally (963 runs) during the domestic season and inter-emirate tournament has seen him come this far but while he and the rest of his peers are all chasing the same objective, Bhatia is keen to rediscover his form with the ball.
At the start of the season, the G-Force Academy cricketer made the decision to give up bowling but as skipper of Dubai International Academy and with a lack of options in his school team, he took matters into his own hands.
His reward saw him finish third highest wicket-taker in the ADIB National School League (NSL) with nine scalps, while bowling once for G-Force with figures of 2-7.
“I was bowling before but I stopped initially at the start of the season because I wanted to concentrate on my batting and that has now come into good effect,” he said.
“I only bowled for my school team as skipper, I always wanted to win and there was no-one else I could turn to for those big wickets.
“Having played so many matches, I have to admit, that I felt quite bored because I was just batting.
“I wanted to bowl again as it just makes you more confident and makes you a complete all-round player.”
He is now beginning to find his rhythm again with his spin-bowling even if it meant he had to go back to the basics.
“I forgot how to bowl and just couldn’t get the line or anything,” he explains.
“Over time it came together and I gradually improved and got a really good line and length with a lot of deliveries. I am now taking some wickets which is a good thing.”
He has been putting that into good use during the training camp and with a few weeks to go until selectors name their squad, he’s confident the hours of practice with the ball will pay off.
“There’s still more to come for me,” said the Dubai International Academy pupil.
“I hope the bowling can boost my chances of being selected but the standard of players in this camp is very strong.
“I feel if I get to start performing now and bowl well, then the UAE cricket can benefit a lot. I want to continue batting strongly as well and I feel it will be for the better.
“I hope I can go on the tour. It would be a be a big privilege and an amazing experience. To play international cricket for your country is something that every child in the world wants to do.”
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