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They call him Mr. Super Coach

Pramod Kumar Gupta?s biggest dream was to play the Gentlemen?s Game at top-level and he even made it to the 20-member Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy team in 1985 under the captaincy of Sunil Chaturvedi, but couldn?t make it to the Playing XI. But life gave his passion a special twist.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 00:09 IST

Pramod Kumar Gupta’s biggest dream was to play the Gentlemen’s Game at top-level and he even made it to the 20-member Uttar Pradesh Ranji Trophy team in 1985 under the captaincy of Sunil Chaturvedi, but couldn’t make it to the Playing XI. But life gave his passion a special twist.

Hailing from a family of businessmen in Ferozabad, Pramod was the youngest one in a family of six sisters and two brothers. After playing for Agra University in North Zone and Vizzy Trophy, Pramod went to National Institute of Sports (NIS) at Patiala just to learn the tips of the game more seriously in 1984. His skills were tested and after an interview he was asked to deposit the fee.

By this time he wasn’t aware about the courses there was surprised to know that there was one special programme for wannabe coaches. There was no looking back, he went on to obtain a first class degree in coaching from NIS with 65 per cent marks.

The right-arm leg-spinner and a middle-order batsman of his college days was then, absorbed by the Uttar Pradesh Sports Directorate in 1985. His maiden assignment was training the 25 inmates at the then Agra Cricket Hostel. Since then, his list of protégés includes the who’s who from the cricketing world over the decades like Mohd Obaid Kamal, Mohd Iliyas, Shankar Narain Tewari, OP Tewari, Hasmat Ullah, Suresh Raina, Rudra Pratap Singh, Shalabh Srivastava, Prashant Malviya, Raja Ali, Mritunjay Tripathi, Mohd Amir Khan, Shivakant Shukla, Ravikant Shukla, Avinash Yadav, Ali Murtuza (all national players), Nittin Sibbal, Sunil Upadhya, Mohd Arif, Naveen Chaudhury, Akhilesh Kushwaha, Suraj Pratap Singh, Mumtaz Qadir, Ankit Tewari, Aditya Singh and several more. “I don’t have any regrets,” says the 49-year-old Gupta, adding, “I always see myself in my trainees, and I am happy that many of them achieved more than what I was expecting for me.” The highlight of Pramod Gupta’s coaching career was when his trainees Suresh Raina and Rudra Pratap Singh made it to Team India recently. The two are still inmates of the Gomti Nagar Hostel where Gupta has been coaching boys for the last four years.

“As a coach I didn’t do anything special as teaching boys the basics of the game makes no difference at this level. What I did was enhance their confidence and slight changes in techniques. More importantly, I concentrated on their match temperament,” he says.

Gupta’s trainees not only made him happy, but also did the State proud as in 2002 UP finished runners-up in U-16 Vijay Merchant Trophy, in 2003 UP finished runners-up in U-17 Vijay Merchant Trophy before finishing runners-up in U-19 Cooch Behar Trophy National Championship in the same year.

In 2001, his trainee Devendra Pratap Singh played for India in the Under-17 Asia Cup, while in 2003, Suresh Raina played for India in the Under-19 Asia Cup. India won the championship. Shivakant Shukla played for India in Under-17 and Under-19 Asia Cup and India won both the championships. Avinash Yadav played for India in the Under-19 Asia Cup again where India won the championship! This is to name only a few. In 2004, Suresh Raina was selected for the Gavaskar-Border Scholarship for advance training at Sydney in Australia. Ravikant Shukla and Avinash Yadav played for Indian Under-19 team in the home series against England.

The golden era of Pramod Gupta’s training finally began in 2005, when Suresh Raina represented Team India in the tri-series at Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and ODI series at South Africa, while Rudra Pratap Singh also played for India in tri-series at Zimbabwe and Test series against Sri Lanka in India and Pakistan. Ravikant Shukla captained the Indian Under-19 team against visiting Australia in ODI Series. India won the series by 4-1.

We can’t help it if this super coach’s profile reads like a list of victory-getters so, all, we’ve got to say is ‘Good going Gupta ji…keep it up…!’

First Published: May 05, 2006 00:09 IST