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Want to cement my place in team for next year's ICC U-19 World Cup: Arjun Azad

Want to cement my place in team for next year's ICC U-19 World Cup: Arjun Azad

Two months after bagging the player of the tournament trophy in Indian U-19 team’s Seventh ACC U-19 Asia Cup Trophy winning campaign in Sri Lanka, Chandigarh cricketer 18-year-old Arjun Azad has been included in the Indian U-19 team for the five-match one-day series against Afghanistan to be played at Lucknow from November 22.

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The opener, who had amassed 202 runs in the U-19 Asia Cup including a 121-run knock against arch rivals Pakistan in the semi-final, is confident of continuing his fine from against Afghanistan. Earlier this year, Azad was part of India A U-19 team which competed against Afghanistan and South Africa U-19 teams.

“I was part of the India A U-19 team earlier against Afghanistan and South Africa in March but played only two matches. I will aim to take advantage of this call for the Indian U-19 team for the the one day series against Afghanistan U-19 team and score runs consistently. The Afghanistan team has got some quality spinners and I have been practicing against spinners to prepare for this series. Bagging the player of the tournament award in the Asian Champions U-19 Trophy in September also boosted my confidence a lot and I want to cement my place for the Indian U-19 team for next year’s ICC U-19 World Cup,” shared Azad.

Son of Panchkula businessman Sanjeev Azad, Arjun started training at the St Soldier Academy in Panchkula before shifting to train under coach Harminder Pannu at Guru Nanak Public School, Sector 36, Chandigarh.

He scored 407 runs including one century and three half-centuries for Punjab in the BCCI Vinoo mankad U-19 Trophy last year apart from scoring 440 runs in the BCCI Cooch Behar U-19 trophy last year.

Prior to Asia Cup, Azad had scored five half-centuries in nine matches while playing for NCA Jaipur in the NCA Inter-Zone Series. Post the U-19 Asia Cup, Azad represented Chandigarh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and scored a total of 220 runs in eight matches to become the second highest run-scorer for Chandigarh in the league stage of the plate group.

Azad played a knock of 75 runs against Meghalaya and counts the experience of playing under captain Manan Vohra and coach VRV Singh a valuable one.

“The Asia U-19 Cup made me believe that I can excel at the international level and I wanted to carry the momentum into the Vijay Hazare Trophy. I had decided to play for Chandigarh earlier and playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy boosted my confidence a lot. Playing a knock of 75 runs against Meghalaya was a special feeling and to share the dressing room with players like Manan Vohra, Bipul Sharma and others was encouraging for me. I was the youngest player in the team and all the players supported me. I grew up seeing Manan bhai play and he also shared tips with me. Coach VRV Singh showed faith in me and I am happy that I played my part in the team’s campaign,” shared Azad.

Though the youngster was not part of the Chandigarh team for the Syed Mushtaq Ali T-20 trophy, Azad is confident of making to the Chandigarh team for the upcoming Ranji Trophy. “Spending time in Chandigarh dressing room gave me a lot of lessons and playing in the Ranji Trophy is one of my aims apart from ICC U-19 World Cup,” shared Azad.