anjot Kalra: From undergoing age-verification tests to winning the ICC U19 World Cup final – It was easy not to notice Manjot Kalra in this under-19 Indian team. He was not picked up by any IPL team. He was not even on many lists of players supposed to win India the ICC U19 World Cup (an ommission of which this writer is also guilty). But now Manjot Kalra has become the unlikely star of the ICC U19 World Cup final.
Manjot Kalra’s cricketing story started in Delhi- with following the footsteps of his older brother. Hitesh Kalra played age-group cricket for Delhi as an all-rounder. The younger Kalra also picked up the sports and was soon making people take notice.
Kalra made his way up the Delhi cricket system, regularly representing his state in age-group cricket as an opener. In 2016-17, he scored 742 runs in the Cooch Behar Trophy.
Kalra soon made his Youth One-Day International (ODI) debut at the age of 18, in February 2017, against the visiting England under-19 side.
Kalra was not included in the ODI squad for India’s tour to England. However, he was part of the Test squad and scored 122 off 117 balls in the first innings.
He got noticed again. Six months later, he was selected for Indian ODI team to play the ICC U19 World Cup.
However, there was one more twist to the tale.
Kalra was asked to undergo another round of age-verification tests by the DDCA despite being cleared by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
There were murmurs that it all happened because some other parent wanted his child to play (for India). Kalra was soon cleared after a bone-age x-ray test.
He was the hero of Indian batting in the group stage match against Australia too, scoring 86 off 99 balls.
On Saturday, he stood tall in the middle. As more famed counterparts like Prithvi Shaw and Shubhman Gill failed to convert starts, he became only the second Indian after Unmukt Chand to score a hundred in the U-19 World Cup final.
And everybody did take notice.