Playing style: Right-hand batsman; right-arm leg-spin
Highlights: Was the star of the 2008/09 Cooch Behar Trophy final against Punjab with a mammoth knock of 143. Was also a member of the DY Patil squad that won the Prabodhan Twenty20 trophy 2009.
Coach: Vidya Paradkar
Chandrashekhar Tathe may have shot to national fame after his stoic 143 against Punjab that earned Mumbai the 2008/09 Cooch Behar Trophy, but the stylish opening batsman has been a star on the domestic circuit for some time now. At 19, he has all the qualities of an opener — patience, footwork, technique and the ability to occupy the crease for long hours.
Considered a big-match player, he has the patience of a Test cricketer and the finesse of a copybook batsman.
Not one for big hitting, Tathe likes to score in singles and twos. “I believe more in consistency than being explosive,” he explains.
His coach Vidya Paradkar agrees: “Tathe is never in a hurry. He is a very composed cricketer and has the knack of playing long innings.”
Interestingly, Tathe's selection for the Cooch Behar final looked difficult after a string of flops and a paltry 20 against Haryana in the semi-final.
But BCCI junior selection committee chairman Abey Kuruvilla was so convinced of the youngster's talent that he voted for him and ensured that Tathe got in. Kuruvilla's decision was vindicated when Mumbai won the toss, elected to bat first and Tathe’s 100 gave his side a 251-run win over Punjab.
Tathe has worked towards that victory. Paradkar recalls: "When he first came to me, he had a problem with his head position. His head used to drop while playing in front and that made him vulnerable. But he was quick to rectify his mistakes.”
Tathe, originally from Aurangabad, has a two-year contract with DY Patil Sports Club and was part of the team that won the Prabodhan Twenty20 Trophy this year. But unlike other youngsters, he is not a fan of the mini format.
“T20 is not my forte,” he says. “My batting mentality is more like Rahul Dravid's. I like to play four-day matches and my dream is to play Test cricket for India.”
By Bivabasu Kumar | email@example.com
Exuberant badminton player with an uncanny ability to read his opponent’s game and come up with unexpected responses.
Teams: Mumbai, Maharashtra
Playing style : Left-handed
Highlights: Has won two national level titles thus far in his career. As a 12-year-old, won every tournament he played in the season in the U-12 category in Maha-rashtra in 2008.
Coach: Uday Pawar
In an era where precision and consistency are more important than flair and deception on the path to becoming a badminton champion, Harsheel Dani has the ability to stop other players in their tracks with his tricky strokes in-between strenuous practice sessions.
The 14-year-old Vile Parle resident has dominated the Under-13 circuit in the state for two years and, though he missed out on the national title in the age group, he showed his potential with a domineering performance en route to winning the School Nationals title earlier this year.
His coach, former international Uday Pawar, points to the southpaw’s ability to read the game and a fantastic temperament as his strongest points. “Even at this age, he reads my strokes during training and can come up with unexpected returns,” says Pawar.
Dani was just six when he joined the Uday Pawar badminton academy at the Andheri Sports Complex. Initially, results were hard to come by, but ever since the student of Chaturbhuj Narsee Memorial School tasted success in a district-level tournament in Vasai in 2004, the graph has been on the rise.
The shuttler, who idolises Chinese world and Olympic champion Lin Dan, has since won two national titles in the Under-10 category and is fast earning the reputation of a future star.
But his unpredictability during training has also attracted criticism from experts, as has the fact that he has sometimes been found wanting in strength and speed.
“All talented players are a little eccentric. But the moment they realise that there is no alternative to hard work, they get on the right track,” argues Pawar, who says Dani is working on these very aspects.
Dani himself says determinedly: “I hate to lose and I know that maintaining peak fitness is important if I have to win tournaments.”
He has been training in two sessions for the last few months as he looks to take full advantage of his 5-feet, 9-inch frame.
The southpaw is also working on building his strength and stamina to last the whole tournament. Says Pawar: “Deception is only effective if it is backed by powerful strokes and speed. Our focus in training is also to develop these core qualities in him.”
In his fledgling career, Dani has shown that he has the quality to carry on the city's legacy of producing champion shuttlers like Pawar and Asian Games bronze medallists Pradeep Gandhe and Leroy D’Sa.
What remains to be seen is whether he can do one better.