A three-wicket haul in a Twenty20 match is generally considered a very good effort. Five wickets is a rare achievement. How about all ten wickets inside a four-over spell then, that too without conceding a run?
The astounding feat was achieved by Akash Choudhary, a 15-year-old medium pacer playing for Disha Cricket Academy against Pearl Academy in the Late Bhawar Singh T20 tournament, a local competition in Jaipur on Wednesday (November 7).
Replying to Disha’s 156, Pearl were blown away by Choudhary for just 32 in seven overs. The teenaged paceman returned incredible figures of 4-4-0-10.
Speaking to Wisden India a day later, Choudhary sounded like he was still celebrating, but was also cautious about dealing with all the sudden attention. “It is a lovely feeling,” he said. “Taking ten wickets in a match, I wouldn’t have ever dreamt of achieving something like this ever.
“I think what helped me the most was that I wasn’t thinking too much. We just wanted to bowl them out as quickly as possible, so that if the question of run-rate arrives at the end of the tournament, ours would be right up there.”
Choudhary started with two wickets in his first over, then two more in the second and third overs, and then wrapped up the match with four wickets in his final over, which also included a hat-trick.
“Right from the first over I felt that my rhythm was excellent,” he said. “Only after I picked up six wickets by the end of my third over did I get a feeling that I could end up taking all 10. I needed four wickets in my last over, and that is when I told myself that such chances won’t come too often. I just focussed at a particular line and length, and ended up succeeding.”
Choudhary, who idolises Zaheer Khan and has the ability to swing the ball both ways, said that he was taking it one step at a time.
“I am not thinking too far ahead,” said Choudhary. “My first aim is to get selected for the Rajasthan Under-16 team, and then we’ll see how it goes on from there. Right from a young age, I was drawn towards the art of quick bowling. I just love to run in and bowl fast.
“I want to just practice to the best of my abilities, and hopefully I will make it to the top level soon.”
Choudhary, who hails from Bharatpur, a district on the Rajasthan-Uttar Pradesh border, shifted to Jaipur in 2014 in a bid to play cricket seriously, and has been training at the Aravali Cricket Club since under the guidance of Vivek Yadav, a former first-class cricketer.
Apart from consistently bowling at decent speeds, Choudhary is also a decent lower-order batsman and a good fielder, according to his coach.
“Akash is an out-and-out fast bowler,” said Vivek, who played 18 first-class games for Rajasthan between 2008 and 2013. “A lot of times it happens that such instances are just a fluke. There was a lot of luck involved here as well, but honestly, the amount of hard work he puts in his game is incredible, and that is reflecting in the results.
“He came to our academy some two-and-half years back, and there have been a lot of changes in his physique in the last one year. He has increased his pace, bowls at 130-plus consistently, and can swing the ball both ways. He is also more than a handy lower batsman, which I think is required with the level of competition going around.
“We are preparing him for U-19 now. I don’t think there is faster bowler at the Under-16 level in Rajasthan at the moment, and he is very accurate considering his age.”