A talented cricketer from Assam’s Silchar, who once was training at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman and others, has now been forced to sell tea and dal-poori at a roadside stall to support his economically poor family.
Prakash Bhagat, a left-arm spinner, who had picked seven wickets including a hat-trick against Bihar in a U-17 Vijay Merchant trophy match and also represented Assam in Ranji trophy, now sits at a roadside stall in Silchar town with his mother every day, sells tea and fast foods.
A resident of Itakhola area in Silchar town and hailing from an economically poor family, Prakash Bhagat had spent his childhood to master his cricketing skills. He wanted to represent India one day, but he didn’t get support from anyone.
In 2002-2003, when the Indian team was preparing for New Zealand tour, Prakash got a call from the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.
He was surprised and excited after getting the call and left for Bangalore.
The Indian team was preparing for New Zealand tour and then Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly and his men were training hard to tackle New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori. Ganguly wanted left-arm spinners to bowl to him and other batsmen – Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman.
Prakash bowled to Sourav Ganguly and other Indian team players in net practice in National Cricket Academy.
Sharing his memory, Prakash said that, he was an Under-17 player then and most of the players of Indian team were in the National Cricket Academy.
“I met most of the senior cricketers including Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman. I also bowled to Sourav Ganguly during net practice,” Prakash Bhagat said.
He also said that, he started his cricket life in 1999 in Silchar town and had represented district team, Assam team in many tournaments and played for Assam team in Ranji trophy for two seasons.
“In 2009-10, 2010-11, I played for Assam team in Ranji trophy. In 2007, Silchar became the champion of Nuruddin trophy inter-district cricket championship and I was the captain of Silchar district team. After the death of my father, the family responsibilities came on my shoulder. I could not focus on cricket. At that time, I was under pressure and it took a toll on my cricket. It was difficult for me to see my family struggle and play cricket at the same time,” Prakash said.
Prakash said that he was working for a private company but due to COVID-19 pandemic, he lost his job.
“We are living in a rented house. Earlier, I was worked in a company but I lost my job during the COVID-19 lockdown. I used to earn Rs 10,000-12,000 but now we are in deep financial trouble. My father had run this stall, now I am continuing this,” Prakash said.