Akash Deep’s Selection a Testament to Talent and Tenacity

Akash Deep was patrolling the boundary line after bowling a spell in Bengal’s Ranji Trophy match against Kerala in Thumba when the dressing room started clapping and thanking him. His efforts in red-ball cricket for Bengal and India A throughout the last season earned him his first call-up to the India Test squad for the remaining three matches against England.

“I was hopeful that shortly I might get a Test call-up if I keep performing but I didn’t expect it by the third match,” Akash Deep tells PTI from his Thumba hotel room.

Akash Deep, 27, began his career as a star tennis-ball allrounder in Durgapur, Bengal, before moving on to first-division cricket in Kolkata, the Under-23s, and first-class cricket. He also played IPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Akash Deep’s Childhood Challenges

When Akash Deep, 15, was the son of a government school teacher in Bihar’s Sasaram, he would have laughed at the idea of a cricket career.

“In Bihar [suspended by the BCCI at the time], there was no platform and especially from the place where I came from, Sasaram, playing cricket was a crime,” Akash adds. “Many parents tell their kids not to hang around with Akash because he only plays cricket and your studies would suffer.

But I don’t blame them. What would you have accomplished playing cricket there? You’d waste time not playing cricket and ignoring academics. Your future would be damaged, they worried. So were my parents.”

Akash Deep’s father wanted him to take government job tests.

Akash Deep with King Kohli

Financial Struggles

“My father and brother died in six months. “I had nothing to lose and had to support the family,” says Akash Deep. A friend helped him join a Durgapur club, but he made money playing tennis-ball cricket.

“I played leather-ball matches for my club, but there was no money. As I earned Rs 6000 per day playing tennis-ball contests around the district three to four days a month. I earned 20,000 each month to cover expenditures.

Akash Deep’s First-Class Success

Akash Deep has 103 wickets from 29 first-class games and 11 from two four-day games against England Lions, including two four-wicket hauls.

“Inswing is my stock delivery, but at this level, you need to have outswing and reverse swing and more importantly need to control the swing,” explains. “I was in the ODI squad in South Africa and realized that more than skill, at this level, it is more about the mental strength of being able to execute plans under pressure.”

Akash Deep will join Bengal quick bowler Mukesh Kumar in the India Test team.

“This is a matter of pride that myself and Mukesh bhai will be in the Indian dressing room together in a Test team,” Akash says. Our state, Bengal, has given us everything. I thank Bengal for this national call-up.”

Akash Deep’s First-Class Success

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