Sunil Choudhary

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Sunil Choudhary’s parents, a maid and a wall painter put him in a children’s home in Mankhurd when he was six, as they couldn’t afford to bring him up. Now thirteen, the medium pacer could soon be troubling Mumbai’s Under-14 batsmen, after his 8-wicket haul in a recent selection match.

Sunil Choudhary was sent to the Chembur Children’s Home, Mankhurd, when he was barely six. His parents could not afford to bring him up and, hence, sent him to stay at the hostel. Today, the 13-year-old’s life has changed for good.

Playing his maiden match of the Late Ajit Naik Memorial U-14 cricket tournament, the medium pacer took eight wickets (3-10 and 5-12) to help his team, the Karnataka Sporting Association, register an innings and 10 runs win over the Shivaji Park Youngsters.

Electing to field, Karnataka bowled out the opposition for just 55 runs in the first innings as Sunil claimed three wickets. In reply, Karnataka scored 98 before the pacer claimed five Shivaji Park Youngsters to help his team win.

Before this game, he had played two matches of the U-14 Varroc Cup in which he got three wickets. He has played in local tournaments, but the Memorial was his first selection tournament. Sunil will make his Harris Shield debut when he represents school, Madhyamik Vidyalaya, Mankhurd.

Lacking basic necessities

Talking about his journey so far and how he learned the nuances of the game, “Till I was six, I didn’t even know what a school looked like. Since my parents used to go out in search of work, I used to pass my time playing with kids in my locality and eating leftovers.”

“I ate just one meal in a day. It was only at the children’s home that I learned the importance of education. A bonus to it was eight months ago, when Sahil Sir (former Mumbai opener Sahil Kukreja) and Ajinkya sir (his coach Ajinkya Kamble) started teaching us the nuances of cricket at the hostel’s ground.”

Abhishek Nayar worked closely on the boys fitness in the early days of the academy, The strength and training was the most important thing for fast bowlers.

Sunil, who is currently in Standard X, further added, “My mother Sangeeta earned a living washing utensils and my father painted walls and roads for money. Their combined earnings (around Rs 5,000 a month) were not enough to run the household.

“Hence, they put me in the children’s home. I miss home terribly, but I love being at the hostel as I get all the basic necessities clothes, food and education.”

Could have lost direction had he stayed at home

“The kids in my locality steal people’s belongings and sell them. With the money, they indulge in vices like drugs, alcohol etc. The children’s home is like a saviour to me. It keeps me away from the life children in my locality lead,” said Sunil.

After seeing marked improvement in him, his parents even got his younger brother Anil (11) admitted to the same children’s home in 2011. His younger sister Vaishnavi (6) stays with his parents. Coach Kamble said the youngster is very hard working and has the qualities to make it big. “Cricket comes to him naturally.

His bowling action is clean, and he makes full use of the new ball. He maintains his line and length, and that’s the reason he gets wickets. He is a hard-working kid. He gives his 100 per cent when he comes for practice (10 hours a day on school holidays and five hours on normal days).

It’s been just eight months that we started teaching these kids to play cricket. But, in his very first selection tournament, Sunil scalped eight wickets, which tells you something about his talent. He doesn’t let his personal struggles show on the field. It is this quality that will stand him in good stead,” said Kamble.

Today Sunil has a bright future ahead of him and is doing well academically. We are hoping he goes on to represent Mumbai in the under-19 age group.