Prakhar Chaturvedi smashes Yuvraj Singh’s record for highest score in Cooch Behar Trophy final

Prakhar Chaturvedi etched his name into the record books by scoring the first quadruple century in the final of the Under-19 Cooch Behar Trophy, against Mumbai in Shimoga on Sunday.

Along the way, he surpassed Yuvraj Singh’s 24-year-old record of 358, the previous highest individual score in the tournament final. Overall, he slotted in at No. 2 on the list of highest individual scores in the tournament, after Vijay Zol’s 451 not out for Maharashtra against Assam in the 2011-12 season.

Opening the innings, Chaturvedi made 404 not out as Karnataka batted Mumbai out of the game and won on the basis of a first-innings lead. Karnataka posted 890 for 8 after 223 overs of batting in response to Mumbai’s 380 all out on the second day. Chaturvedi faced 638 balls in all, hitting 46 fours and three sixes in his knock.

It marked a spectacular turnaround in fortunes for Chaturvedi, who wasn’t picked in the Under-19 squad for the season to begin with, but now elicits the prospect of making his senior team debut for Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy, in the same season where he also missed the India Under-19 World Cup bus.

Chaturvedi’s knock is bound to attract significant interest from the senior state selectors given Karnataka suffered a crushing six-run loss to Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy earlier on Monday, after they lost 10 for 53 to crash out in a chase of 110.

“He unfortunately missed the Under-16s, it needed a lot of convincing for the selectors to give him an opportunity there,” said K Jeshwant, the former Karnataka allrounder and chief selector who now coaches Chaturvedi at the SIX Academy at the Dravid-Padukone Centre of Sports Excellence in Bengaluru.

“A similar story happened at the Under-19s too, but luckily, he got opportunities, and he delivered when it mattered. He’s a great example for players who get dejected when they miss the India selection for the Under-19 World Cup. I won’t be surprised if he gets called into the senior Karnataka squad almost immediately.”

A 11-year-old Chaturvedi first began training at SIX Academy in 2017. It wasn’t until after the Covid-19 pandemic that he began making heads turn. “There are 400 players in the academy, and at that age when he first came in, he was one among this large group. Everyone has that one year where they make the next step up,” said Jeshwant.

“Prakhar’s step up came in 2020-21. There was a lot of maturity to him, the way he handled setbacks (not being selected for the Under-16s), the way he trained and prepared. You could see here was a guy who has the ability to soak up everything and handle things calmly.”

“He’s a great example for players who get dejected when they miss the India selection for the Under-19 World Cup. I won’t be surprised if he gets called into the senior Karnataka squad almost immediately”

K Jeshwant, Prakhar Chaturvedi’s coach

Chaturvedi comes from a family that has highly valued academics. His father is a software engineer in Bangalore and mother a scientist with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). Alongside his cricket, Chaturvedi too has been impressed upon the need to focus on academics.

“My first statement to anybody, especially the parents when they bring their kids is to focus on regular schooling alongside cricket,” Jeshwant said. “Prakhar is no different. Those who quit education at a young age and put all their eggs in one basket [cricket], if they get one or two bad scores or if they have one bad tournament, they’re like a fish out of water.

“Kids who go to school, have a regular college life, they’re better off. Their acceptance levels are a lot higher; they get on with their lives and have something to look forward to beyond just cricket. Even if they get two bad scores, they aren’t under pressure for the third game.

“A lot of coaches and parents believe if you spend hours of practice, you improve only by spending the entire day on the field. Yes, it is important, but it’s also important at a young age to understand how young kids handle pressure. If you’re at the ground the entire day, and don’t go to school or college, don’t have a fall-back option, you’re subjected to tremendous pressure even before a ball is bowled.”

Jeshwant cites Chaturvedi’s example while underlining the kind of resilience a lot of young cricketers have these days while growing up. It’s a different matter that this only shines through at times when performances of the kind Chaturvedi put up in the final, hog headlines.

“He’s very resilient,” Jeshwant said. “A lot of boys obviously come from far. Prakhar travels 80km to and from home for his cricket. That kind of dedication can only come from within, not if you’re not serious. He travels to the academy [situated in the northern borders of Bengaluru, in Devanahalli] from Electronic City [a suburb in the southern-most part of the city adjoining the borders of neighbouring Tamil Nadu].

“We spoke to his father and asked if he could get a throwdown expert for him so that we could reduce a bit of travel fatigue. That arrangement worked better, and he started coming to the academy and staying at the residential facility whenever he had holidays off from school and junior college. Technically, he’s well equipped.

“Kids at that age sometimes need validation that they’re good. After beating Yuvraj Singh’s record, am sure he’ll know he has landed and that he belongs to another level. The best part is Prakhar is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a whole batch of young kids who are really good – Dhruv Prabhakar, Aditya Samarth, Samit Dravid, Yuvraj Arora to name a few. If I was in a decision-making capacity, I’d like to see him fast-tracked into the senior Karnataka team straightaway.”

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