The first thing Nathu Singh wants to do is build a bigger house for his parents and younger brother. After all, the 20-year-old son of a factory worker in Jaipur has just become richer by Rs 3.20 crore.
A pace bowler hailed by cricket greats like Rahul Dravid as the “spark” in Indian cricket, was bought by IPL franchise Mumbai Indians on Saturday, catapulting the virtually unheard of player to the big league.
But all the youngster could think of when HT spoke to him was about the hardships he faced to play the game of cricket -- first with tennis ball in the narrow bylanes of the Murlipura locality where he lives with his family.
“Now I will build a new house for my parents,” an emotional Nathu said, choking on his words.
Prodded to speak about his cricketing dreams, Nathu said he hopes to catch the eye of the national selectors during his stint with the Mumbai Indians in IPL.
“My priority is to play well in IPL and prove my strength. IPL is the platform to enter the Indian team,” he added.
When HT contacted Nathu’s father Bharat Singh on phone he said he was busy loading packets of wire on trolleys and was unaware of his son’s achievement till someone informed him.
“I am very happy for his achievements. His hard work has paid off,” Singh said adding that his son even took up odd jobs to buy cricket kits.
Nathu’s remarkable journey, however, began by chance when Rajasthan’s first-choice bowler Pankaj Singh was injured on the eve of the first-round match of the 2015-16 Ranji Trophy.
Bowling with passion and purpose, the fast bowler had managed to generate impressive pace on a flat Jaipur track.
Even as a boy, Nathu had won matches for his local tennis ball teams when his accuracy and speed was talked about. Later local cricketers advised him to train with a leather ball and he joined an academy in Sikar, about 100 km from Jaipur.
“I was in eighth standard and around 12 years when I used to play with the tennis ball. I believe that tennis ball improves bowling because you have to put in a lot of shoulder in order to bowl quick,” Nathu had said earlier.
After his successful Ranji stint, Nathu was picked for the India ‘A’ squad to play the touring South Africans. It wasn’t a memorable outing but he bounced back in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali tournaments with rich hauls in most matches. Nathu also represented India ‘B’ in Deodhar Trophy and impressed with his pace and swing.
“Nathu is a bright prospect for the country. He has the speed and control to succeed. He can definitely bowl quicker and can generate good speed. He is a raw talent,” said S Senthilnathan, chief coach at the MRF Pace Foundation where the youngster did a stint.
What has surprised many is the amount Mumbai paid for a player with a base price of Rs 10 lakh.
“We raised the paddle late because we knew Nathu would go at a certain price. We didn’t have any apprehensions about him so we went head and picked him. Actually, we had budgeted more for him but are happy we got him at this price,” said MI’s Akash Ambani.