Wednesday Dec 04, 2019
India's new Under-19 World Cup skipper Priyam Garg credits his rise to the captaincy to his "superhero" widower dad, who delivered newspapers and sold milk to fund his cricket training.
The 19-year-old Garg, a top-order batsman, was appointed captain of the junior Indian team that will defend its title in the 50-over event starting January 17 in South Africa.
But Garg, who hails from a small town near the northern city of Meerut, said the journey thus far would not have been possible without the sacrifices of his father Naresh.
"My father sold milk, distributed newspapers and drove school vans to fund my training," Garg told AFP by phone from Bangalore.
"He used to give me money even when he did not have enough for himself. It is his hard work and blessing that made me see this day. He is my superhero."
Garg has been a prolific run-scorer in junior and domestic cricket, hitting a first-class double century for his state side Uttar Pradesh last year.
The youngest of five siblings, Garg lost his mother in 2011 and admits that family support remained key in keeping his focus on playing professionally cricket intact.
"I lost my mother in 2011 and it was an emotional time for me. I was shattered and it was dad and family that made me get over that tough period," said Garg.
"We had trouble making both ends meet. It wasn't an easy life and mum's death made matters worse. But now things have improved. Dad has his transport business which is doing okay."
It was either dad or his three sisters — their other brother is a pharmacist — who travelled with Garg to the cricket academy that was 20 kilometres (12 miles) from home.
"I have been playing cricket since the age of six. At eight I joined Victoria Park (in Meerut) and started to pursue the game seriously," said Garg.
"My father or my sisters would accompany me on bus rides which were long but fun because family was there. I was never alone."
Garg, a self-confessed Sachin Tendulkar fan, said he can never repay his father for what he has done and doing well for India in the World Cup will be the ultimate gift for his family.
"I am just focusing on playing well for my team in the World Cup," he said.
"I am huge Sachin Tendulkar fan and he will always be my inspiration. In current cricket I follow Rohit Sharma."
For Garg though there is no lack of inspiration in the U-19 World Cup with India winning the title four times under Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Unmukt Chand and Prithvi Shaw.
The Indian team, which has put up a training camp in Bangalore, will begin their campaign against Sri Lanka on January 19 in Bloemfontein.
The 16-team event will conclude with the finals in Potchefstroom on February 9.