Former Indian cricket team captain Mohammad Azharuddin has come to the rescue of 20-year-old Prashant Singh, providing Rs 25,000 monetary aid as he had yet to receive payments for participating in U-23 tournaments in the 2019-20 season.

Prashant, a fast bowler, represented Bihar U-23 in two tournaments (seven four-day games and four one-day games) in the 2019-20 season but failed to receive his match fees for participation.

"I played seven four-day games and four one-day games for Bihar in the 2019-20 season, for which the BCCI is yet to give me match fees, which amounts to Rs 8 lakhs. It's not a small amount. I'm not the only player from Bihar who has not been paid their dues,” Prashant said in an interview with Times of India.

“Many cricketers who played for the Bihar senior and under-23 teams have not been paid their dues, and are in a bigger financial strife than me," he said. As per rules, Under-23 players receive Rs 70,000 for a four-day game and Rs 17,500 for a one-day game.

Furthermore, Prashant Singh is also yet to receive a payment of Rs 50,000 for representing Bijapur Bulls in the Bihar Cricket League (BCL).

"When I asked the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) officials about it, they said it was a voucher issue. However, it shouldn't have taken this long. People say that my career could be under threat if I ask for this money, but this fight is about my rights. I am yet to receive payment for having taken part in the Bihar Cricket League (BCL) too. I played for Bijapur Bulls and Rs 50,000 is due to me," Prashant Singh said.

Mohammad Azharuddin, president of Hyderabad Cricket Association, stated that he helped Prashant based on his family teachings. “I don't like showing off. I don't want to embarrass that boy and most importantly his family. It's what has been taught by my parents and grandfather," the former India captain said to TOI.

Besides Azharuddin, former India wicket-keeper Surinder Khanna has also stepped in to provide monetary support to Prashant Singh.

“I had seen this boy in Muzaffarpur four-five months back in a tournament, and was impressed with his talent,” Khanna said.

As a matter of fact, both Mohammad Azharuddin and Surinder Khanna were directed by Aditya Verma, the secretary of the unrecognised Cricket Association of Bihar (CAB), to help the youngster.

"I'm thankful to both Azhar sir and Aditya Verma, who told him about my plight, for helping me out in this hour, from the bottom of my heart. I still can't believe that such a big cricketer has helped me. I've just met Azhar sir once, when he came as a chief guest for a tournament, organised by Verma, two-three years back, but I've never spoken to him," Prashant Singh told TOI from his hometown of Chhapra in Bihar.

In response, Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) President Rakesh Tiwary said the 20-year-old will receive his dues soon. 

"All the players have been paid their match fee for the 2019-20 season by the BCCI. In Prashant's case, there was some technical issue with his voucher, but he will get his payment soon,” Tiwary said.

“We had sent all the invoices to the BCCI, but we were told that there was an error in them. So we have sent all the invoices again. Please note that a lot of our staff at BCA was hit by covid recently, which slowed down things a bit administratively, as people couldn't go to the BCA office," he added.

Featured photo: AFP / Prakash Singh