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Abhishek Gupta makes BP XI vs Sri Lanka after impressive Ranji Trophy debut

Abhishek Gupta has been included in the Board President XI for a two-day warm-up tie against Sri Lanka starting in Kolkata on November 11 thanks to his impressive Ranji Trophy debut for Punjab.

cricket Updated: Oct 23, 2017 23:39 IST
Shalini Gupta
Shalini Gupta
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Ranji Trophy,Punjab,Abhishek Gupta
Punjab cricketer Abhishek Gupta will get a chance to make a mark when he plays in the Board President’s XI in a two-day tour match vs Sri Lanka in November. (HT Photo)

Just before the Punjab Inter-District Tournament for Katoch Shield Trophy, Jalandhar wicketkeeper-batsman Abhishek Gupta had confided in his coach Harjinder Singh that he will quit if he doesn’t make the Punjab Ranji Trophy team this season.

Harjinder asked his ward to to play his heart out and then make the decision. Abhishek did just that and scored 640 runs in five matches for Jalandhar in the Katoch Shield to emerge as the highest scorer.

These performances helped Abhishek secure a berth in the Punjab senior team and he announced his arrival in first-class cricket with a bang, hammering 202 runs off 203 balls on his Ranji Trophy debut against Himachal Pradesh.

He became the first wicketkeeper to score a double hundred on first-class debut. It was followed by an innings of 89 runs against Vidarbha in the second match.

And the fairytale is not over yet for Abhishek, as the Punjab batsman has been rewarded for his efforts and been included in the Board President XI for a two-day warm-up tie against Sri Lanka starting in Kolkata on November 11.

“I was very close to starting my life all over again without cricket. I was ready to help my father in his edible oil business in Jalandhar and quit cricket. My coach told me to hang in there for a season and give my best shot.

“I played in the Katoch Shield with the intention of securing a berth in the Ranji Trophy team. I was gutted for the past two seasons that despite creditable performances, I was not able to make the cut,” said Abhishek Gupta from Goa.

Abhishek Gupta played school cricket alongside Mandeep Singh. The duo helped MGN Public School win a lot of trophies.

“Mandeep Singh and I played junior cricket together but somehow I was not able to make to the Ranji ranks. I am so thrilled to have done well for Punjab in the last two matches. Frankly, I am surprised by my selection for the Sri Lanka warm-up game,” said Abhishek, who idolizes former Sri Lankan cricketer Kumara Sangakara.

Abhishek earned praise from senior cricketers Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh for his “counter-attacking” knocks against Himachal Pradesh and Vidarbha.

Although Punjab lost the match against Vidarbha, Abhishek’s knocks were the only silver lining for the state team.

“Not only is Abhishek a brilliant batsman but an agile and quick wicket-keeper. Punjab needed someone like him in the middle-order,” said Harjinder Singh, who started out at the famous Burlton Park in Jalandhar.

“He is a very mature cricketer and doesn’t like throwing away his wicket. Expect more big knocks from him this season,” he added.

First Published: Oct 23, 2017 23:39 IST