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From Lonavala’s lanes to the Most Valuable Team in U-19 World Cup 2022, Vicky Ostwal’s been on quite a journey

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Vicky Ostwal is a young Indian cricketer who was a part of the ICC Under-19 World Cup-winning side of 2022. A left-arm orthodox spinner, Ostwal was the highest wicket-taker for India in the Under-19 World Cup 2022. He was signed by Team Delhi for the base price of INR 20 lakh in the Indian T20 League 2022 auction held in February. 

Early struggles: Lonavala to Mumbai journey, MCA snub 

Hailing from the hill station of Lonavala, Vicky Ostwal’s love for the sport was evident from a very young age. The youngster used to regularly board trains with his father to travel all the way to Vengsarkar Cricket Academy in Mumbai, which is more than 80 kms away from Ostwal’s residence. 

“I always saw them sometimes coming late, sometimes too early. So one day I asked where they lived, and Vicky replied that he came from Lonavala,”  Mohan Jadhav, Vicky Ostwal’s coach at the academy once told PTI. 

“Most of his energy used to get spent in the journey itself but he never gave up. He always looked fresh on the ground and never showed fatigue,” he added. 

However, it was only after a rejection by the Mumbai Cricket Association that Jadhav took Vicky Ostwal under his wings. 

“He went to make his Mumbai Cricket Association card one day but was debarred as only players born in the city can play in MCA tournaments. So that is when I got a call to enrol the boy in Pune,” he said. 

The move proved to be a major stepping stone in Ostwal’s career as he went on to play age-group cricket for Maharashtra and even competed against those of a higher age group. This plan, according to his coach, was instrumental in shaping his career.

Fighting all odds: The reported suspect action

While making a mark at the junior level, Vicky Ostwal faced a major setback at the Under-16 level when he was reported for chucking at the Under-16 level. It was a time when Ostwal even contemplated giving up on his bowling completely.

However, it was Atul Gaikwad, a PhD in biomechanics and Level-3 coach at the NCA who helped the young Ostwal make the corrections in his action. 

“The boy came to me and over the next few months, we spent some time on it. The action wasn’t suspect, it just needed a tweak between the bowling arm going up and straightening out before the ball left the hand,” Gaikwad told TOI

After his remodelled action, Ostwal went from strength to strength and grabbed headlines with noteworthy performances before eventually making it to the Indian team for the Under-19 World Cup in West Indies.

A memorable outing in the Under-19 World Cup 

Known for his consistency, determination and accuracy, Vicky Ostwal caught everyone’s attention in the tournament following a group stage match against South Africa where he was adjudged the Player of the Match for his effort of 5/28 that helped India win the match by 45 runs. 

In the six matches that he played, Ostwal bowled 44 overs in total ,picking 12 wickets while conceding under four runs per over. Such was Ostwal’s form that barring the final match against England, he picked at least a wicket in every match for India.

The youngster’s consistency throughout the tournament earned him a place in ICC’s Most Valuable Team of the tournament.  

Indian T20 League contract with Delhi

February 13 2022 was another historic day for the Ostwal family as Vicky managed to bag an Indian T20 League contract with Team Delhi. 

Like all youngsters, Ostwal seemed jubilant at the prospect of sharing the dressing room along with stalwarts of the game. 

“Sharing the stage with some of the great players will be a huge learning for me,” Ostwal said.

“I have been watching the Indian T20 League ever since I was a kid. There was always a dream of playing in the Indian T20 League as it is the biggest platform you can get,” he added.  

The youngster, who idolises Ravindra Jadeja, will be hoping to emulate similar success as the now senior all-rounder achieved back when he first burst onto the scene for Rajasthan. 

“He (Ravindra Jadeja) is my role model. The kind of player he is, he contributes in bowling, in batting, and the most important department is fielding. He is the guy that every team wants him,” Ostwal concluded. 

With Ricky Ponting as head coach at Delhi, Vicky Ostwal will have a perfect mentor to propel him to the next level after his Under-19 heroics. Renowned to get the best out of youngsters, Ponting has a rich history of grooming raw Under-19 talents like Shreyas Iyer, Rishabh Pant, Prithvi Shaw and Avesh Khan, all of whom the Australian helped in their transition to international cricket.

Ostwal will be hoping he can follow suit under Pointing’s tutelage and prove his credentials amongst top-quality international players in the ultra-competitive environment of the Indian T20 League. 

He’s already come a long way from all the setbacks but that perhaps is something that we shouldn’t be surprised about. Lest we forget, here's a young man who was used to braving rain, wind, hail or storm and turning up at his cricket academy some 80-plus miles away from his home with enthusiasm and love for the game. 

With such an endearing attitude and steadfast determination, it was always going to be a matter of time before Ostwal caught the national selectors’ eyes but that path may have just been fast-tracked following his acquisition by the Indian T20 League franchise Delhi.

Author: Kaustubh Potdar

Featured photo: Vicky Ostwal / Instagram

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