Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran to play Ranji at the Dehradun stadium he owns
The Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium, built by Easwaran’s father for his young son to train, was picked by Uttarakhand as the venue for the tie
Viv Richards and Brian Lara have only watched matches at stadiums named after them. Bhaichung Bhutia never had the chance to kick off at the Bhaichung Bhutia Stadium in Namchi, Sikkim. Daren Sammy perhaps is the only cricketer to have played at the Daren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia. And now, Abhimanyu Easwaran—the current India ‘A’ opener was part of the Test squad in Bangladesh last month—will open for Bengal against Uttarakhand, his state of birth, in a Ranji Trophy Group B match at the Abhimanyu Cricket Academy Stadium in Dehradun.
Located around 12km from the Indian Military Academy in the Uttarakhand capital, it’s a bustling cricket complex around an international size ground comprising nine pitches and fitted with ICC-standard floodlights. Lining it is a state-of-the-art training centre with bowling machines, a 60-room academy hostel that has, among other things, a spa, library, bakery, a restaurant named Sunny’s Cover Drive, a Jonty Rhodes Fitness Centre and rooms dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar and Lara.
The stadium is the brainchild of Abhimanyu’s father, Ranganathan Parameswaran, who started the Abhimanyu Cricket Academy the day he became a chartered accountant. “Before that, I was a newspaper vendor and sold ice-creams,” he said over phone from Dehradun. “But once I became a CA, I wanted to give back to the game. Yes, it's a proud moment to watch my son play here. But it’s only a stepping stone. I want to see him play 80-100 Tests in the next 10 years.”
When Abhimanyu, 27, walked out at the Eden Gardens in 2013 to make his Ranji Trophy debut, he was initially known as ‘that wiry lad from Dehradun who trained at a stadium built by his father and named after him’. But Abhimanyu never had that air around him. “Any child would have gone astray if he had a stadium named after him. But he would come and stand in line at the academy and ask me which slot would he get to bat,” said Ranganathan.
Abhimanyu was born in 1995, seven years after the academy came into existence. “I am a Tamilian married to a Punjabi. We named him Abhimanyu so that both families could accept it,” said his father. Ten years later, Ranganathan bought the land for the stadium. Over the years, the ground has hosted many age-group and senior domestic matches but never one that featured its owner. Come Tuesday and that record will be set straight.