Chennai, Feb. 15 -- The last year has been surreal for these 16 youngsters, who now find themselves at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.
Never did they dream that they would be part of the India set-up. Like many starry-eyed kids, they too dreamt of playing as professionals but did not progress beyond gully cricket.
Until a never-before open national trial conducted by the NCA last year for bowlers outside the system opened its doors to them.
Coming through rigorous selection trials, the 16, in the age group of 17 and 22, now have the opportunity to bowl at the India batsmen in the four-day preparatory camp to be held from Friday.
A few chosen ones are also likely travel with the team to Chennai - the venue of the first Test against Australia.
Over 100 bowlers were shortlisted and sent to the regional academies in Mumbai, Chennai and Mohali for advanced training.
And the best will now bowl at the India batsmen. Karsan Ghavri, bowling coach at the specialised fast bowling academy in Chandigarh, who supervised the trials, is pleased with the outcome.
"We found a lot of talented youngsters, who did not have the exposure at the competitive level. They are raw but have the talent. Some of them can bowl quick too. This is a good opportunity for them," said the former India seamer.
In fact, the opening has come in the form of a chance to audition for Indian Premier League sides. Three of the youngsters recently attended the Mumbai Indians and Pune Warriors' selection trials.
Ghavri said if they impressed at the India camp, they might find themselves playing at the professional level. "One never knows what is in store. With some guidance, they are good enough to play at the highest level."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.