Muscat: A 14-year-old Indian cricketer who plays for Oman has become one of the youngest players to score a century at the international level.
He wants to emulate his idol Sachin Tendulkar and one day bring glory to the country.
Yash Verma, who plays for Oman’s under-16 national team, scored a magnificent knock of 107 for the Sultanate against the Maldives at the Asian Cricket Council’s under-16 Western Region tournament, which was held in Oman between October 21 and 29, 2019.
Yash’s contribution to Oman’s massive score of 333 for 6 in their 35 overs saw him named the man of the match after the game, with their opponents the Maldives being skittled for just 36 runs in 24 overs. The tournament, which also featured Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, Kuwait and Qatar, saw Oman win the championship when they beat the neighbouring UAE by one wicket in the final.
“Yash has always been interested in cricket, and as far as I can remember, was always walking around with a bat and ball,” recalled his father, Akshay Verma.
“I think he first picked up a bat when he was six, and I don’t think he’s put it down for a long period since then. To him, other toys were not as important. It was cricket that he was truly passionate about, and because he developed such a skill for it, I thought I would also do all I could to help him develop.”
In addition to playing domestic cricket and school-level cricket in Oman, Yash, whose twin sister Yashika plays for the Oman women’s cricket team, has also gone on overseas tours to help him acclimatise to conditions elsewhere, in the hopes of making it big on the international stage.
“We have taken him on tours to the UK, to Australia, so that he would learn to thrive under conditions that he is not so used to otherwise,” said Akshay. “He also went on a tour to India where he performed really well, and he was also given awards when he was in the UK, among some of the other countries he went to, so we are really happy and proud to see him really follow his passion. It’s not everyone who gets the opportunity to do this, so if he is doing it well, why not help him?”
A keeper-batsman, Yash Verma idolises the legendary Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar, and wants to achieve a similar level of glory if possible, but both he and his father know that will not be easy.
“Sachin scored his first century at the age of 16, and Yash has done that at just 14,” revealed Akshay.
“He really admires Sachin and I think it’s easy to see why. Sachin was one of the greatest batsmen to have ever played the game, and he has inspired many cricketers in the past. Yash used to bowl as well, but he is now a keeper-batsman like Rahul Dravid and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
“Of course, we know it is not easy, because Yash is very young and there is a long way to go, but he is determined,” he added. “There have been times when he has elected to play even if he is suffering an injury, because he wants to do his best for the team. There is a lot of discipline required in the sport and Yash knows that this comes first. If, for example, his friends are going out for a late-night movie, but he has a match the next day, then he will put his foot down and say no.
“Similarly, he knows he has to be in top condition to play the game, so he will not eat junk food and have fizzy drinks before the game, because that will definitely affect his performance and his fitness during the game,” added his father. “This is the sort of discipline any young sportsman needs to have if they want to achieve success. It is not easy for someone so young to balance academics and sports, but there have been times when we have picked him up from tuition and dropped him off at the cricket pitch and vice versa. Fortunately, his academics have not suffered alongside his cricket and he is excelling in both areas.”
Although Oman’s senior cricket team have qualified for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in Australia next year, Yash’s father thinks his son may not have a chance to make it to the squad at that World Cup, but he will definitely target the next.
“Right now, it is a bit too early to say whether he will be considered for next year’s squad, because he is too young, and there are many players who are senior to him who will have a greater chance of selection, because this is the senior team, but he has many ambitions to play for Oman in the future. If, of course, they do want to have a look at him, we will definitely consider it,” said Akshay Verma.