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IPL auction 2022: Why Under-19 World Cup star Raj Bawa has promises to keep

IPL team Punjab Kings’ latest recruit Raj Angad is the grandson of Tarlochan Bawa, a member of the Olympic gold-winning Indian hockey team from the London 1948 Games.

Picked up by Punjab Kings for INR 2 crores at the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 auction, 19-year-old Raj Angad Bawa will have big hopes riding on him in the upcoming season of India’s biggest cricketing festival.

The burden of expectations, however, is unlikely to make the young all-rounder flinch.

Grandson of Tarlochan Bawa, member of the iconic Indian men’s hockey team which won the gold medal at the London 1948 Olympics, Raj Bawa grew up in a family which nourished the pursuit for sporting excellence.

Raj Bawa’s father Sukhwinder Bawa is a renowned cricket coach, who has moulded India internationals like Yuvraj Singh and VRV Singh. Sukhwinder played both hockey and cricket while young but turned to coaching after a spine injury in his 20s.

Raj Angad Bawa is tracing his grandfather and father’s footsteps. Despite his young age, he has already won big honours for India on the global stage and played a starring role in helping India win the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2022 for a record fifth time.

Born in Nahan, Himachal Pradesh, on November 12, 2002, Raj Bawa grew up in Chandigarh. He lost his Olympian grandfather at the age of five.

“I don’t have many memories of my grandfather because I was a kid when he died. But I have heard his stories from my grandmother and my father, which will stay with me forever,” Raj Bawa told Indian Express in an interview.

However, there was one memory of his grandfather which was ever-present at home – the Olympic gold medal.

“Whenever I see that gold medal, it gives me goosebumps, I can only imagine how important an achievement it must have been, back then,” Raj Angad Bawa says.

The medal has been a constant source of inspiration for Raj Angad, who knew from a young age that he had the richest of sporting legacies to live up to.

Smitten with theatre, music and dance during his childhood, Raj Bawa’s life took a sharp turn at the age of 11 after visiting Dharamsala with his dad to watch a cricket match. ‘Something changed in him after that’ is how Raj’s father Sukhwinder describes the moment.

Raj started pursuing cricket seriously and had a coach right at home in his dad. He also started attending Sukhwinder’s coaching academy where India ace Yuvraj Singh also trained.

In Yuvraj, Raj Bawa found a hero. Though a natural right-hander, Raj shifted to being a southpaw because Yuvraj was left-handed. He, however, still bowls with his right hand.

Raj Angad Bawa stars at U-19 Cricket World Cup

From there, Raj Angad Bawa’s rise has been rapid. After successes at various age groups, Raj, a fast-bowling all-rounder, made his debut for the Indian U-19 team in a youth ODI match against Bangladesh at Sharjah. Since then, he has played 10 matches, scoring 343 runs at an average of 57.16 and has picked up 17 wickets.Most of the matches were at the Under-19 Cricket World Cup in the West Indies. Raj Angad Bawa was phenomenal at the tournament.

Raj Bawa scored 252 runs and took nine wickets in his six outings. His highest score of 162 not out in 108 balls against Uganda was the highest individual score of the World Cup. It also became the highest individual score by any Indian at the U-19 World Cup, surpassing Shikhar Dhawan’s previous record of 155 from 2004.

His best bowling figure of 5/31, meanwhile, came against England in the final, earning him the man of the match award in the title decider.

Interestingly, at the London 1948 hockey final, India, captained by the legendary Balbir Singh Sr, also beat England to win gold. Tarlochan Bawa scored one of India’s goals in a 4-0 win. It was his second goal at the Olympics.

The 1948 hockey gold is often considered a pivotal piece of Indian sporting history. Though one of India’s six Olympic hockey gold medals, it was the first for the country as an independent nation. The fact that it came in England against England – India’s former colonial rulers – makes the win even more iconic.

Curiously, Raj Angad Bawa’s cousin Reetinder Singh Sodhi – a former India international – was also the man of the match during the U-19 World Cup final in 2000, where India beat Sri Lanka.

Raj Bawa still has a long way to go but with the genes of an Olympic champion in him, sky’s the limit.

Photo : olympics.com

Website : olympics.com

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