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Once a Ranji player, Bhagat now sells 'dal puri' for survival (Ld)

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By Sujit Chakraborty

Silchar (Assam), July 6 (IANS) Prakash Bhagat, once a leading cricketer from the state who played in different national and state-level tournaments, now runs a food stall in southern Assam’s Silchar to manage two square meals for his poverty-stricken family.

The 34-years-old left-arm slow bowler and right-handed batsman now sells ‘dal puri’ at a roadside stall at Itkhola within the Silchar Municipal Board, for the survival of his six-member family.

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Bhagat said that as a member of the Assam team, he had played Ranji Trophy matches in 2009/10 and 2010/11 against the Railways and Jammu and Kashmir teams.

The former cricketer had also taken a month-long training in the Bengaluru-based National Cricket Academy (NCA) in 2003.

“During my NCA training, I bowled to Sourav Ganguly as the New Zealand-bound Indian team was practicing in the academy. That time, I got a chance to meet Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Virender Shewag and Sourav Ganguly,” said Bhagat.

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“I had to leave cricket in 2011 after my father (Gajadhar Bhagat) died following a massive cardiac attack at the age of 65.

“My father and elder brother, Deepak Bhagat, used to sell ‘chaat food’ in a hand-driven cart. After my father’s death, my elder brother also remains ill,” Bhagat told IANS over phone.

Deepak is married and has two small children.

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Bhagat said that if the Assam Cricket Association (ACA), or any other organisation, supports him financially, he could resume his cricketing career.

“After I left playing cricket to support my family, I joined a private mobile company but due to Covid-induced lockdown, I lost my job last year,” said Bhagat.

Bhagat’s cricketing career started in 1999 at the Silchar District Sports Association’s Under-13 tournament. He played several tournaments in the Under-16, Under-19 and Under-23 categories at the state and national level.

“My consistent performances in different lower-level matches helped me find a place in Assam’s Ranji Trophy team. I was in the squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as well,” he added.

“If I get financial support for my family, I am keen to return to the cricket field again. Many of my former teammates got government jobs or financial support from various government and non-government organisations, but I could not obtain one.”

Former Ranji Trophy player and a renowned cricket-management personality, Manimay Roy, said that due to the lack of financial support, many sportspersons in the northeastern region quit sports.

–IANS

sc/akm

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