Raj Angad Bawa Twitter PhotoCHANDIGARH: A 45-day camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bengaluru under the watchful eyes of India's batting stalwart VVS Laxman, followed by an all-round show at the NCA emerging tournament for Under-25 cricketers earned Chandigarh teenager Raj Angad Bawa his maiden call-up to the India A team for the three-match one-day series against New Zealand A, starting September 22 in Chennai.
The 19-year-old scored a couple of fifties and took 10 wickets in the multi-day matches played among four teams, before shining in the T20s with a cracking 40-ball 71, to capture the attention of the national selectors.
"We were divided into four teams and I could put up an all-round show on most occasions. In a couple of multi-day matches, I took 10 wickets besides getting half centuries. Also in the T20s, my performance was decent, I think that helped my selection," said Raj, who was busy playing an inter-zonal UTCA match when his father and seasoned coach Sukhwinder Bawa broke the news on Friday afternoon.
It was at the same Sector-16 Cricket Stadium in Chandigarh, when on a warm October afternoon of 2019, Sukhwinder pointed out towards Raj, while speaking to this reporter, 'Isko fast bowling mein interest jyada hai, batting par dhyan kam hai, jis din yeh dono par focus karege yeh bahut aage jayega' (He takes keen interest in fast bowling than his batting. The day he balances both his batting and bowling, he will go the distance).
Cut to 2022, Bawa Sr has the same advice for his son, "His all-round abilities will be tested now, the selectors are looking at him as a good potential for the coming years. Selection in the India A side is just a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of playing for the country."
Sukhwinder, a seasoned coach, who has trained the likes of Yuvraj Singh, said playing against the overseas sides will help Raj work on the areas where he needs improvement.
For the youngster, 2022 has been a breakthrough year. An impressive show in the India Under-19 team's fifth World Cup triumph, when he took 5/31 and scored 35 runs in the final against England, not only turned him into an overnight sensation, but also made him a hot pick at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auctions with Punjab Kings eventually buying him for Rs 2 crore.
Although he featured in two games for the franchise, he got to rub shoulders with the likes of Jonny Bairstow, Shikhar Dhawan, Kagiso Rabada, Bhanuka Rajapaksa and Liam Livingstone, under the mentorship of then coach Anil Kumble.
"The IPL experience was a great learning curve. For any youngster to share the dressing room with the likes of Rabada and Bairstow, one can't ask for more," says Raj.