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Former India U19 duo finds success in USA

The duo got the national call-up when ICC lowered the minimum residency for eligibility from four years to three.

Saurabh Netravalkar of India
Saurabh Netravalkar of India. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Two former India Under-19 players recently made the switch to compete for the United States of America (USA) in the ongoing CWI Super50 Cup. Left-arm seamer Saurabh Netravalkar and batsman Sunny Sohal who had once donned the Indian Blue will now be seen wearing the USA jersey.

On January 31 this year, just over three years after he played his last game for Mumbai, Netravalkar debuted for the first world nation against Leeward Islands. When the ICC lowered the minimum residency for eligibility from four years to three, Netravalkar got the call to join the national team. The same residency stipulation allowed Sohal to be fast-tracked into USA’s squad at the top of the batting order.

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Netravalkar had a tough journey

It’s been a quirky journey into the USA squad for Netravalkar, rediscovering his passion in a new country for a game he thought he had to give up after being unable to achieve a work-life balance between cricket and engineering in India.

After finishing as India’s leading wicket-taker at the 2010 Under-19 World Cup, where his team-mates included KL Rahul and Jaydev Unadkat, the 26-year-old initially pursued an undergraduate degree in computer science while juggling it around with his cricketing career.

With a major dilemma hanging over his shoulder, the aspiring cricketer had two choices- head back to India for engineering work or stay in the States and shift to San Francisco where he had been offered a job with Oracle and begin a path toward eligibility to play for the USA. He chose the latter.

Comparative success between Sohal and Netravalkar

Netravalkar has enjoyed a promising start to his USA career. Opening the bowling, he’s taken four wickets in four matches with an economy rate of 4.33. He took 2 for 45 in 10 overs on debut against Leewards.

On the other hand, Sohal has had a rocky start. He got a ripper of a delivery, jagging back in, on his first ball on debut against Leeward Islands, then followed it with an over-eager slash to the keeper for a second-ball duck against Guyana. He struggled early in his third match against Jamaica before battling to grind out 65 off 112 balls in a losing effort. Overall, he has 72 runs in four matches.

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