Vicky Ostwal’s coach recalls 9-year-old who travelled daily from Lonavala to Mumbai

Mohan Jadhav remembers the time he got a call from Manish, one of the coaches at Elf-Vengsarkar Academy, to enrol nine-year-old Vicky Ostwal, who travelled from Lonavala with his father to play cricket in Mumbai.

“I always saw them sometimes coming late, sometimes too early. So one day I asked where they lived, and Vicky replied that he came from Lonavala. Take a train, eat there and then go back again. Most of his energy used to get spent in the journey itself but he never gave up. He always looked fresh on the ground and never showed fatigue,” Jadhav recalls.

Those memories flooded Jadhav’s mind after his charge took five wickets on Saturday to help India Under-19 beat South Africa for a winning start to their World Cup campaign.

Going back in time, Jadhav remembers calling Ostwal’s father Kanhaiya. Lonavala is on the Mumbai-Pune route. It’s famous for its ghats and a long tunnel, and a popular tourist destination.

But for cricket, Ostwal had to decide whether to move to Pune or Mumbai. Hills could give him fresh air but for cricket, he had to come to ground.

“They used to play in Mumbai. He used to travel daily. Imagine a small boy, who had to travel two hours one way daily. He went to make his Mumbai Cricket Association card one day but was debarred as only players born in the city can play in MCA tournaments. So that is when I got a call to enrol the boy in Pune,” Jadhav, who now coaches the youngster, said.

The coach had another piece of advice for Ostwal’s father. Why not rent a place in Pune and cut the travel time? The businessman agreed and the family soon rented an apartment in the vicinity. This helped the young boy to not only save time but also energy, which helped him in his cricket.

He has great flight, good control and can bowl at one spot consistently, Jadhav said. The coach was so impressed that at the age of 10, he made Ostwal play in under-14 tournaments. The Elf-Vengsarkar Academy has also produced Ruturaj Gaekwad, who hogged limelight for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League.

“His control is the key. In junior games, he was successful because of his control and ability to bowl at one spot consistently. At the same time, he loves to talk about the game. He will pick points from others consistently to develop himself. You will see him keep talking in the nets always,” Jadhav said.

Back in Lonavala, Ostwal’s family is happy but guarded. Kanhaiya knows that his son has taken the first step and there are miles to go in his journey.

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