First Cricket Memories: Rajpoot’s South African influence

The famed South African pace duo of Makhaya Ntini and Morne Morkel inspired young pacer Ankit Rajpoot.

Many cricketing careers have been influenced by certain matches which young enthusiasts have either watched on television or played. However, for a young Ankit Rajpoot, it was during a match where he was a ball boy that he got inspired and found the determination to become a fast bowler.

The South African pace battery, comprising of Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini were a fearsome sight, capable of destroying even the mightiest of oppositions in the matter of a few deliveries. And watching them play live from close quarters was an experience that stayed with Ankit for a long time.

“My earliest cricket memory would be when I was a ball boy in 2007 in an India–South Africa Test match, and Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini were playing in it,” recalled Ankit.

As a young boy watching the mighty South Africans in action, Ankit might never have imagined that he would one day be sharing the dressing room with one of those stalwarts.

“When I played for Kolkata Knight Riders in 2015, I was in the same team as Morkel. He is a great bowler, and also very friendly by nature, so it was nice to spend time with him. I learnt a lot from him, like how should one bowl on a fast wicket, especially in foreign conditions, how to bowl with a Kookaburra ball, etc.,” Ankit said excitedly.

Well, all this advice from the South African paceman certainly paid off. Ankit made it big for the state of Uttar Pradesh at the domestic level and went on to become one of the uncapped players to be picked up for the VIVO Indian Premier League. His pace and control impressed a many on that stage and his best figures of 3/37 in the IPL proved he was ready for the big stage. As a part of the Sher-e-Punjab now, Ankit will undoubtedly continue to grow and put all his training lessons into practice.

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