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Kulwant Khejroliya goes from waiting tables to Delhi’s enforcer in Ranji Trophy

Left-arm paceman Kulwant Khejroliya took a match-winning six-wicket haul, and along with seamer Navdeep Saini (seven wickets) bowled Delhi to victory over Bengal in the Ranji Trophy semifinal.

cricket Updated: Dec 20, 2017 20:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ranji Trophy,Delhi vs Bengal,Kulwant Khejroliya
Kulwant Khejroliya was picked by Reliance for the Mumbai DY Patil tournament in January, where he bowled well and was immediately picked by Mumbai Indians. The next day he was in the Delhi one-day squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, followed by the Ranji Trophy squad.(Mumbai Indians )

The Bharat Nagar ground in the Capital’s Ashok Vihar has for quite some time been a home for youngsters from humble background arriving in Delhi with the hope of becoming cricketers.

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Coach Sanjay Bharadwaj, who runs the show here courtesy the Delhi government’s education department, and has trained Gautam Gambhir and Unmukt Chand, mentors many youngsters who live there, pursue some level of education, get a domicile certificate and go on to play cricket.

Some of them don’t even have kits as they come from the margins of the society.

Left-arm paceman Kulwant Khejroliya, who took a match-winning six-wicket haul, and along with seamer Navdeep Saini (seven wickets) bowled Delhi to a big Ranji Trophy semifinal win over Bengal, first knocked on Bharadwaj’s door a couple of years ago.

“I used to work as a waiter in Goa but I returned home (in Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan). I had pace and wanted to play cricket. Then, I ran away from home. I told my folks I was going to Ahmedabad for a job. But I went to Delhi and began playing cricket. I borrowed some money from friends. I played tennis ball cricket in Japanese Park in Rohini and used to umpire at the weekends, both to make ends meet. Sanjay sir had adopted me. I managed a B.Com too,” he told Hindustan Times.

But soon fortune took a turn. “I was picked by Reliance for the (Mumbai) DY Patil tournament in January.”

He bowled well, was noticed and immediately picked by Mumbai Indians. The next day he was in the Delhi one-day squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

He has not looked back since.

Khejroliya picked a fifer last year in a one-dayer against Uttar Pradesh and got to play the Deodhar Trophy, where he impressed in high-scoring games. Soon, he was playing in the Board President’s XI against the visiting Australians.

On Tuesday, he scared the opposition batsmen by bowling quick and short and with Saini skittled out Bengal for 86 in the second innings. An India cap may not be imminent, but he surely should be the driving force for Delhi for years to come.

First Published: Dec 20, 2017 20:38 IST