Jai Bahadur, born to a migrant Nepali couple, comes from a small village near Rampur, a small town in Uttar Pradesh.
Until last year, he had played his entire cricket with locally-made hand-sewn balls. He couldn't have afforded to make the trip to Dharamsala but for a generous
local school principal sponsoring it.
Against this backdrop, the 20-year-old was the perfect protagonist for an against-the-odds story.
It, however, ended on a disappointing note, at least for now, when he faltered in the final round of the BCCI-conducted bowling trials on Sunday.
"My seniors had taught me how to grip the leather ball, but maybe I forgot something in the final round," he said ruefully, watching his friend from the corner of his eyes, perhaps fearing he would be stranded if he lost him.
Batting it out
While this potentially awe-inspiring story didn't see the desired end, a few others took their first steps on the happier route. Raj Bahadur, a nippy left-arm pacer from a small village near Allahabad, tasted his biggest cricketing success yet by making it to the final list, containing around 25 names. "I had come to Delhi four months back from my village. It's a little difficult to believe I have made it from amongst more than 600 boys."
He, however, knows this is just the first step in a long journey that could pull out his family from the stifling poverty. "My father works as daily wager and earns just enough to keep the family going. Yet, he somehow supports my passion. I hope I can change all this through cricket someday."
For Pawan Dabbas, this was a make or break opportunity. The leg spinner from a village on the outskirts of Delhi lost his father in November and the burden of supporting the family fell on his young shoulders. "It's difficult to get over the tragedy in such a short time and be on the field. But for me this was a kind of last chance. I just wanted to give it my all before I take up the job being offered to me in my father's place and support my family."
What now, as he has been selected? "Let's see. I hope this proves to be my lucky break and takes me somewhere, or else I will take up that job with the Delhi Transport Corporation."
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