The path traced by Rishabh Pant, Anuj Rawat retraced it. Like Pant, he left the scenic hills of Ramnagar, a Mofussil town in Nainital in Uttarakhand, and reached Delhi with his mother to fulfill his dream of playing cricket. Like the Delhi Capitals captain, the left-handed wicket-keeper batsman likes to hit big and expend his vocal energy behind the stumps.
But Rawat’s story has only just begun – and it wouldn’t be surprising if his story added more colorful chapters to it. He has already registered a few hundred top class players, but the talent announcement came at the IPL Stadium, when he threw a power-laden 66 out of 47 balls for RCB against Mumbai Indians, flaying some of the bowlers the fiercest. the baddest of them all, Jasprit Bumrah.
As with Pant, and so many others, the journey began in the backyard of the Rawat house. He started playing with his father, Virender and the elder Prashant. “My father played cricket when he was young. But he never received support from his family. He was the first to spot the talent in Anuj and took him to Satish Pokhriyal, a cricket coach in Ramanagar. Anuj must have been six or seven years old at the time,” Anuj’s older brother, Prashant Rawat, tells the Indian Express about the early stages.
Virender was a tragic cricket. “My father would never miss a game; he was so passionate about cricket. It was the same with Anuj and me. Back home, there was a party atmosphere if India played a game,” says Prashant.
Train to Delhi
After a few years, Satish Pokhriyal advised Anuj’s father that if he wanted his son to play professional cricket, he should take him to New Delhi. Exactly eleven years ago, Asha Rawat and her sons Prashant and Anuj took the train to New Delhi. The Rawats then rented a two-room apartment in Uttam Nagar, closer to Raj Kumar Sharma’s West Delhi Cricket Academy.
“I had finished my 12th class boards. I was moving to Delhi anyway, and Anuj was also going with me. My mother stayed with us for six months, then she came back. We decided to stay in Uttam Nagar because it was closer to Anuj cricket academy as my college was in Noida,” said Prashant, who now runs a digital marketing business with his wife Ranjana. .
With Prashant’s upbringing and Anuj’s cricket, Virendra started facing financial problems. He took out loans from friends and family, but sometimes that wasn’t enough. “From my second year at university, I also started working. I told my father that your dream was mine too. You don’t have to worry about Anuj’s cricket career. I will pay his tuition, his training fees, I will take care of everything,” Prashant recalled.
“For a few years we hardly interacted with each other. When I get back from college, he will go to training. And when he gets home in the evening, I will be at work” , did he declare.
Finances got rosier, but Anuj’s career was going nowhere. He faced rejection after rejection. “He wasn’t selected for Delhi Under-14 and then Delhi Under-16. For any cricketer, that’s disheartening. But my dad never gave up hope; he’ll just keep motivating him. My dad has always knew that Anuj had everything in him and that he would succeed on a professional level,” said Prashant.
It wasn’t just Anuj who was injured. The coach was equally distressed. Sharma took the rejection to his heart and thus began the ‘making of Anuj Rawat’.
“Anuj still has this great self-confidence. He was the most sincere of the lot, the most hardworking. If I ask him to do four laps, he will finish those four laps,” Sharma said.
He quickly caught the attention of Delhi selectors and made his Ranji Trophy debut in the 2017-18 season, when Pant was called up for India A. Anuj impressed with a smooth 71 and followed it up with a another half-century against the railways.
— Anuj Rawat (@AnujRawat_1755) April 9, 2022
When Pant became a national team regular, Anuj started getting more chances. Next season he scored his first cent, 134 out of 183 against Madhya Pradesh. Delhi were shocked at 36 for 5, before he entered, and he took them to a nine-wicket win.
Soon, the Rajasthan Royals scouts picked him. He spent two years with the Royals, where he only played two games. Then RCB came calling and, realizing its potential, coughed up Rs 3.4 crore, seventeen times more than its base price, to buy it. Sounds like money well spent. “Virat (Kohli), Faf (Du Plessis) and Mike (Hesson) were impressed with him at the net. And it was the team management‘s decision to play him at the top, and he’s doing relatively well, Sharma said.
— Anuj Rawat (@AnujRawat_1755) April 2, 2022
His greatest strength, Sharma says, is that he’s not afraid of reputations. “One of Anuj’s biggest strengths is that he never trusts the bowler’s reputation. He will always bowl the ball, not the bowler, and I’ve seen that in him from the first day he’s been on. came to my academy,” Sharma said.
In age group cricket, Anuj has always played as an opener, but when he played in the Ranji Trophy, he had to drop down the middle order. “He is a floater. He opened for India U19 even for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy. He is a complete team man,” said Sharma, who is now the coach of Delhi So far he has traveled behind and with Pant, but their paths may cross one day.