Priyam Garg says his journey from a small child without means to buy cricket gear to becoming Indian team captain for Under-19 World Cup would not have been possible without the sacrifice of his father, who resorted to driving a school van to fulfil his son's ambitions.
The 19-year-old Priyam was on Monday named captain of the Indian under-19 team for the World Cup to be played in South Africa from January 17 to February 9.
Hailing from village Quila Parikshitgarh, about 25km from Meerut, Priyam picked up the bat and ball at the tender age of six.
"My father Naresh Garg drives a school van. I have one elder brother and three sisters. I am the youngest in the family. My father didn't have enough money to take care of such a big family and support my cricket career," Priyam told PTI Bhasha.
"But seeing my love and dedication for the sport, he borrowed some money from his friend and bought me a cricket kit and arranged for my coaching. I started playing cricket and due to my father's hard work today I'm captain of the under-19 team," he added.
Priyam suffered a personal setback when he lost his mother at the age of 11. His only regret now is that his mother can't see him play for the Indian team, which was her dream.
"My mother died in 2011 and it was her dream that I play cricket for India and now that I'm the captain of the under-19 team she is not here to see it. I regret that the most." India is the most successful team in the tournament, having won four titles till date, including the last edition in 2018. Priyam will now carry the same responsibility which was once on the shoulders of Mohammad Kaif (2000), the current India senior team skipper Virat Kohli (2008) and batsman Prithvi Shaw (2018).
Priyam has a first-class double hundred and a List A century to his name. He was a part of the India C team that finished runner-up in the Deodhar Trophy.
"I used to practice cricket for 7-8 hours a day while continuing my studies. Sanjay Rastogi, my coach in Meerut used to help me and because of that and my father's efforts I was selected in the Ranji team in 2018," Priyam said.
A right handed top-order batsman, he scored 800-plus runs in his debut Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season for Uttar Pradesh, scored a century in his debut game against Goa.
Like every other Indian cricketer, Priyam too aspires to meet Sachin Tendulkar to take tips from the legend.
"My dream is to meet Sachin Tendulkar and take tips from him and wear the blue colours of team India one day." Alongside Priyam, two other UP cricketers -- vice-captain Dhruv Chand Jurel and Kartik Tyagi -- have been selected in the under-19 squad and UPCA Director Yudhveer Singh said he hopes all three of them shine in the Indian team like several others from the state.
"UP Cricket has provided Indian cricket with top players like Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Praveen Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep is still in the team. We hope that in the coming years Priyam, Dhruv and Kartik will shine in the Indian team as well."