It is a modern day Cinderella story. Nathu Bharat Singh, a right arm, fast pace bowler was born to an unskilled labourer who wanted to fulfill his elder child's dream to become a professional cricketer. To this end, the father borrowed Rs 10,000 from a local money lender to send his 16-year-old son to one of Jaipur's premier cricketing academies. This was 2012.
Singh would wear the shoes his seniors at the academy would discard, and play in tennis-ball cricket leagues to earn money for his cricketing equipment. His talent was noticed early on — former Rajasthan Ranji player Anshu Jain, who was a coach at Surana Academy where Singh initially trained, remembers Singh was a "natural fast bowler", and the academy decided to subsidise fees for him, given his financial background.
By October last year, Singh had made his Ranji debut. In his first match, he took seven wickets, including that of Delhi skipper Gautam Gambhir. "You could not ignore him after that," P Krishnakumar, Rajasthan bowling coach, toldThe Times of India.
Later that month, Singh played as part of Board President's XI squad against South Africa.
By the time the IPL auctions rolled about yesterday, Singh was on the wish list of several team selectors. The first bid for him was Rs 10 lakh — over 10 times the initial sum borrowed by his father for his training — by the Royal Chellengers Bangalore. "When the first bid (Rs 10 lakh, base price) was made for me by RCB, I was overjoyed," he told TOI. "At that time, the amount didn't matter. The fact that there was a bid for me was enough for my friends to start celebrating."
Soon, Delhi Daredevils also joined the bidding war, but it was the Mumbai Indians' Rs 3.2 crore bid that sealed the deal for Singh. The 20-year-old is still joyful about the first bid, he told TOI, but the significance of the MI's final bid is slowly sinking in for him, whose father was still out on Saturday struggling to deliver finished rolls of electrical wires to various customers across Jaipur to earn Rs 8,000 a month.
— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) February 6, 2016
Take a bow, Nathu Singh.
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