Three players from Bengal have been selected for the India U-19 camp after a good Cooch Behar Trophy in the last season. Sayed Irfan Aftab, Sumit Nag and Rahul Prasad are the talented players to be selected for the camp. All these three players had their own battles, but Rahul's one was tougher. Rahul Prasad had to first win the battle of life, before winning it on cricket grounds.
Just one year ago, Rahul lost his mother. At just 17, Rahul had the mental strength to go for the Bengal U-19 trials three days after his mother's demise. At first, he did not wanted go but his coach Birendra Pratap Singh advised him to go for the trials and everything changed for the all-rounder from Sodepur after that.
Rahul usually was a batter who could bowl. He used to be a medium pacer before his coach Birendra Pratap Singh guided him to be an off-spinner looking at his height and physical attributes. Bengal needed an off-spinner and he was able to impress coaches and selectors to be selected for the Bengal U-19 camp.
But, nothing changed for him after that. Harikishan Prasad, Rahul's father is a taxi driver by profession and he even used to drive Cricket Association of Bengal's cars as well. So, there was always a need for money to meet daily needs. Seeing that Rahul started to deliver online food at night.
Cricket in the day and food delivery by cycle at night. It was getting tough for the 17-year-old kid. He could not manage it for more than four months as he was getting physically exhausted after cycling 22-24 km every night.
"He is a very tough kid. Mentally strong and humble. These attributes also help him on the ground as well," said Birendra Pratap Singh in an exclusive interview with Sportz Point. "Look, we as coaches can only help him in many ways but it is he who worked hard to get better. Everyone helped him during his tough time. We all want him to grow as a player and fulfil his dreams. Moroever, very happy with the selection of three Bengal boys in the camp," Birendra Pratap Singh added.
Abdul Monayem, a prominent coach of Bengal cricket had spotted him in his early days and given him a chance to lead the Bhawanipore U-18 team in the CAB U-18 tournament. "Rahul is a bit different from others. I feel his personal life has made him tougher mentally. I advised Rahul to put more focus on his bowling as Bengal team needed an off-spinning all-rounder. He kept on working hard and got selected as a bowling all-rounder although generally, he is a batting all-rounder," Abdul Monayem added.
Everyone in Rahul's family is very happy now. But, in a lower-middle-class family like his, there is always a difficulty. Coach Birendra Pratap already made sure that poverty should not come his way to glory. "I have told his father to let him play. We all are here to help him. But, a talented and hard-working player like him must continue playing. I have told his father to let him enjoy his cricket," Birendra Pratap Singh expressed.
Abdul Monayem also echoed the thoughts of Birendra Paratap Singh. "He will have to keep on fighting. I know he is very strong mentally and he will just have to keep on improving himself and take one step at a time. We all are here to help him," he told Sportz Point.
But, previously many players have lost their way after reaching this level. Abdul Monayem believes that is the duty and responsibility of coaches like them to guide young talents like Rahul Prasad to a better future. "I always believed that Bengal cricket never lacked the supply line. We just have to guide and nurture players like Rahul, Irfan and Sumit."
"Moreover, when you spot talents like them, you must give them proper chances so that they can serve Bengal cricket for a long time and eventually serve Indian cricket as well," Abdul Monayem added.
Every fan of Bengal cricket will be hoping that Rahul Prasad will make a name for himself and help Bengal cricket in many ways in the coming years.
Note: Made with inputs from Ananda Bazar Patrika's coverage by Indrajit Sengupta