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Ranji Trophy: Abhimanyu Easwaran to play at Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium

The stadium in Dehradun, where the Uttarakhand vs Bengal game will be played, is owned by Abhimanyu's father

Abhimanyu Easwaran has trained at the Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium since he was a youngster  •  Charles Lombard/Getty Images

Abhimanyu Easwaran has trained at the Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium since he was a youngster  •  Charles Lombard/Getty Images

In 2005, RP Easwaran bought a large piece of land in Dehradun and started building a cricket stadium. The company running the cricket academy Easwaran owned - the National School of Cricket - was called Abhimanyu Cricket Academy, inspired by the character in the Mahabharata. And when Easwaran's son came along in 1995, he was named Abhimanyu too. And that stadium, when it was completed, was named - you guessed it - Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium.
Now, on January 3, Abhimanyu, the Bengal opening batter who was an injury cover with the Test team in Bangladesh last month, will be part of the side for their Ranji Trophy match against Uttarakhand at the stadium that he shares his name with, the stadium that's owned by his father. This will be the first first-class cricket match to be held at the venue.
"It is a proud moment for me to play a Ranji game at a ground where I have learnt all my cricket as a young boy," Abhimanyu told PTI. "This is a result of his [Easwaran's] love and hard work and it is always a great feeling to come home, but once you are on the field, the focus is on winning the game for Bengal."
While the stadium is not quite named after Abhimanyu, when he plays at the picturesque ground, it will be a story unlike too many. Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad, Allan Border Field in Brisbane and Karen Rolton Oval in Adelaide were rechristened after the iconic players in question finished their international careers.
Daren Sammy might be the only one to have played at the venue - Daren Sammy Cricket Ground, renamed from Beausejour Cricket Ground, in Gros Islet, St Lucia - that was named after him. In that regard, Abhimanyu playing at Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium will be quite an occasion for the family.
The stadium is 'not just for my son', says Easwaran
The floodlit ground in Dehradun has been used by the BCCI and the Cricket Association of Uttarakhand for some years now, and a number of domestic matches have been held there, but not one at this level.
"I don't think there are many instances [of players playing at ground named after them], but for me this is not an achievement," Easwaran told PTI. "Yes, it feels good, but the real achievement would be if my son can play 100 Tests for India. This is a stadium I built because of my passion for the game and not just for my son.
"I started constructing [it] in 2006 and I am still spending from my pocket to upgrade it constantly. There are no returns but it's all about my love for the game."
Easwaran, a chartered accountant by profession, wanted to become a cricketer but couldn't. His professional success meant that he could back Abhimanyu to make it big. Abhimanyu has led India A in the recent past and has also been a part of the Indian Test squad as a back-up opener, but hasn't made his international debut yet.
"Yes, I have practiced with a lot of them and I wouldn't deny it helps. But in today's day and age, with extensive video analysis being done, no one has any distinct advantages as such"
Abhimanyu Easwaran on being familiar with the home ground of his opponents
"I had been a newspaper vendor and sold ice-creams in Dehradun as I completed my CA degree," Easwaran recalled. "I wanted to give back to the game and it is my good fortune that god gave me a son who also plays cricket. But the passion to create a cricket facility was always there. Now I have left active [CA] practice and just relax."
While he is a proud father of a successful first-class cricketer, what gives Easwaran satisfaction is that his academy has helped produce five players who are in the current Uttarakhand side, including seamer Deepak Dhapola, who got eight wickets in the last game.
Easwaran hails from Tamil Nadu and his wife is from Punjab. But the family moved to Uttarakhand in 1969. Easwaran chose Bengal as the home for Abhimanyu when he was about nine years old because the junior cricket system there was good, and there were more opportunities in the age-group teams in Bengal, as he put it.
Abhimanyu still trains in Dehradun and is familiar with many of the Uttarakhand players. But with the amount of video analysis at the teams' disposal these days, he said that his presence would give Bengal no significant advantage over the opposition.
"Yes, I have practiced with a lot of them and I wouldn't deny it helps," he said. "But in today's day and age, with extensive video analysis being done, no one has any distinct advantages as such."