ICC Under-19 World Cup January 16, 2010

India's new-ball pair revels in its strengths

Defending champions India got their Under-19 World Cup campaign off to a winning start, easily beating Afghanistan. Central to that win was their new-ball pair of Sandeep Sharma and Saurabh Netrawalkar, right-arm and left-arm medium respectively, who bowled their quota on the trot very economically. Anand Vasu met them for the Hindustan Times.

Netrawalkar is now studying Computer Science as an engineering major, and often carries his books with him on cricket tours. He remembers how his parents took the journey with him from Malad to Churchgate when he was picked up by Dilip Vengsarkar's Elf Academy as a child. "Not only did they come with me, they waited for three hours while practice was on, and took me home," says Netrawalkwar. The hard work is paying off, as the youngster matches on-field exploits with academic excellence off it.

"In studies I am some way behind Saurabh," says Sandeep, who is finishing up 12th standard in Punjab. "You've heard of the Patiala peg?" he asks, when you want to know where in Punjab he's from. But engineering's not for everyone, and Sandeep's talents with the ball are there for everyone to see.

Jamie Alter is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo