Delhi batsman Vaibhav Kandpal grabs his eyeballs

NEW DELHI: Vaibhav Kandpal, who is part of Delhi’s Under-19 team, has emerged as the highest scorer for his team this year, generating some buzz in the local cricket circles.

Vaibhav, who grew an interest in the game at a very early age and made MS Dhoni his idol, got noticed during his under-14 days. His sincerity, commitment and performances have kept him in the mix and this season has been impressive.

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In eight matches for Delhi, he scored 820 runs, striking four hundreds and two fifties – including a 215 in the third league game against Maharashtra. The disappointing bit is that despite his heroic efforts, Delhi failed to qualify for the knockouts of the Cooch Behar Trophy this season.

Son of an All India Institute of Medical Sciences’ employee, Vaibhav, like many other budding cricketers, didn’t have the luxuries of a South Delhi kid. But his father sent him to a good school, which helped Vaibhav work his way up to get admission in Sri Venkateswara College. The student of political science knows education is important but cricket is what keeps him going.

“Cricket is all about how you handle pressure; and in world cricket, there is no one who can match Dhoni in the way he handles pressure,” Vaibhav told TOI after Delhi's last league game against Tamil Nadu which finished in a draw last week. An outright win could have taken Delhi into the knockout stages.

With Indian captain Virat Kohli telling the upcoming players to keep their focus on the game, Vaibhav seems to be on the right path. He isn’t flashy, unlike most of the Delhi batsmen who have made it big.

As for his batting, Vaibhav prefers playing the waiting game but can also play shots. “I am a middle-order batsman and ready to face any sort of challenge. For me, scoring runs for my team at the pace most suited for the team is my only lookout,” Vaibhav said.

Vaibhav’s childhood coach Madan Lal is ready to vouch for his ward. “Four hundreds in eight games show that this guy is doing something right,” said Lal, once the selector and head coach of the Indian team.

Vaibhav also bowls right hand off-spin and reminds of the former India players Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

“I have been playing this game for more than 10 years and the biggest lesson I have learnt so far is to keep giving my best and not be scared of anything. I have batted at No. 5 for my state team for years and I hope to get more consistent,” Vaibhav added.

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