‘Living my father’s dream’: India’s U-19 cricket captain Priyam Garg recalls days when his father sold milk to see him play

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Uttar Pradesh cricketer Priyam Garg will lead defending champions India in Under-19 ICC Cricket World Cup. The BCCI has named a 15-member squad for the marquee event to be held in South Africa next year from January 17 to February 9.

For Priyam Garg, the success did not come easy as the 19-year-old remembers the days when his father used to sell milk from door-to-door. There were days when he would travel on the bus roof from his home in Parikshitgarh to Meerut to pursue his dream. He lost his mother when he was just 11.

Garg, who drives his inspiration from legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, proudly recalls how his father worked day in, day out and take up odd jobs to ensure good life to him. Speaking to The Indian Express over phone from Bengaluru, Garg said, "My father did most of the hard work, he did all the odd jobs that you can imagine... selling milk, driving school vans, loading goods, he ensured that I got a good life. He went through all that just to see me become a cricketer one day. He took me to Meerut and made sure that I got into a decent academy."

His father, Naresh, used to accompany his son to coach Sanjay Rastogi's academy in Meerut, 23 km away, or ensure that one of his five sisters did so until they were convinced that he could travel alone.

The academy has produced famous swing bowlers such as Praveen Kumar and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. After training, Garg soon got selected in Uttar Pradesh’s Under-14 team and went on to play for the U-16 and U-19 teams. Garg, a right-handed top-order batsman, has a first-class double hundred and a List A century to his name. He amassed 867 runs for UP in his maiden Ranji Trophy season.

Garg has earned admiration from the likes of former cricketer Rahul Dravid, who currently monitors the progress of India A and India under-19 cricket teams. "I met Rahul Dravid and he told me not to worry and that my son would go places. I was happy that day," says Naresh, who works as a driver in the UP health department.

The budding batsman also got the praise of his coach Rastogi, who advised him to focus on batting instead of bowling because he looked such a natural stroke-player. "Your ward's sharp mind will stand him in good stead," Rastogi told Priyam Garg’s father.

Priyam Garg wants to don the jackets of Men in Blue in the senior Indian team one day but for now, he says he is living his father’s dream.