Ankit isn’t jealous of Unmukt’s success

Ankit could have been in Unmukt’s place today — popular and on the fringes of Team India — if not for an unsavoury incident...

Indore: His name has been wrongly spelt on the jersey — as Ankeet — but that’s just to differentiate between the two Ankits in the India Blue team. Ankit Bawne, a rather unknown entity in Indian cricket despite his first class average of 49.34 in 29 matches for Maharashtra, walked out to a quiet response at No.6 and played the first ball towards point, where a diving Unmukt Chand made a save. The crowd immediately stood up on their feet to applaud the rising star of Indian cricket, made more famous by the ICC Under- 19 World Cup win, and his challenge to MS Dhoni in a soft drink advertisement.

But the irony of the moment couldn’t be missed. Ankit could have been in Unmukt’s place today — popular and on the fringes of Team India — if not for an unsavoury incident involving different dates of birth registered in his passport and birth certificate that made him ineligible for the under-19 team, of which he was originally selected skipper.

Ankit just smiles at the comparison.

“You have to score runs as well to become famous and be in line for contention. Unmukt did that, and it’s just fair. Unmukt and I are great friends and we talk to each other often. I can’t think that I have been unlucky, who knows, maybe India may not have won the Under-19 World Cup under my captaincy,” laughs Bawne.

Unmukt, on the other hand, went on to lead India ‘A’ this season against New Zealand.

The right-handed middle-order batsman from Maharashtra, though, admits it was tough for him to get out of that shock and gives credits to his family, who backed him when many thought he had cheated on his age.

“It was just an administrative mistake, but it cost me a lot. But I am happy that I have come out of all that,” says the 20-year-old.

Ankit says life is little tough for a batsmen from a team like Maharashtra, but says he is enjoying the challenge.

“When you are playing for smaller teams, it’s important to keep scoring big runs and hope that you get noticed for your talent. The benefit is that you are scoring runs against all big teams,” says Ankit, who got a break in the India under-23 team recently.

“For me, scoring runs in the Challenger is very important, it doesn’t matter whether big stars are missing because of other commitments, it allows players like to me to stake a claim.”

He missed out on an opportunity on Thursday, getting out LBW to Sumit Narwal for 13. And just as fate would have it, Unmukt too got out on 13. Just for a day at least, both are on an even keel.

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