If you told a 16-year-old cricketer that he would either get to meet Virat Kohli or be paid Rs 1.5 crore to play, it would be a tough choice. But if you are Prayas Ray Barman waking up on December 19, you are four months away from achieving both.
While the cricketing world talks about Varun Chakravarthy and Shivam Dube, the auction for the 2019 edition of the Indian Premier League has quietly thrown up another potential superstar in 16-year-old Prayas.
Only a photo with Virat
"The feeling has not sunk in. But I'm getting a flood of calls, with several in waiting. Never expected I will be picked," Prayas told Press Trust of India.
Royal Challengers Bangalore paid a whopping Rs 1.5 crore for the teenager whose dream of clicking a photo with Indian captain Virat Kohli will finally come true.
"Like any other youngster in India, Virat is our role model. I always had a dream to click a photo with Kohli. I've tried a lot but did not get any opportunity. Now that I would be sharing the dressing room with my hero is just unbelievable," Prayas said.
"Sharing the dressing room, practising, interacting with the likes of Kohli, AB de Villiers on a day to day basis... It will be a big learning curve for me."
Next Anil Kumble?
Prayas is likened to Anil Kumble in the Bengal cricketing circle. Already at a towering 6'1" frame, the boy from Dumdum Park is known for his quick and accurate leg-spin bowling. He is not a big turner of the ball either and while it is extremely premature, the comparisons to Kumble can be understood.
"I was not that tall. It was only a couple of years ago, I've grown taller as many people here started telling me that I bowl 'Kumblesque'," Prayas, who is a fan of Aussie great Shane Warne, said.
Prayas made his List A debut for Bengal as a 15-year-old against Jammu & Kashmir and picked up 4/20 in his quota of 5 overs. The leggie finished the tournament as his side's leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps in 9 matches at an economy of 4.45 runs per over.
Father approved of his passion
In India, it is difficult to follow one's passion without parental support and Prayas thanks his father, Dr Kaushik Ray Barman for allowing him to pursue cricket.
"He always supported me and never went after me to pursue studies."
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Priceless Moment❤️ Thanks everyone for all the love and wishes? • • • Posted @withrepost • @royalchallengersbangalore One of the few IPL selects born in this century, Prayas gets the IPL ticket and he'll don the red and black. What were you doing when you were 16? #BidForBold #PlayBold
"My sister is an IT professional but I chose cricket. He gave me full freedom to pursue cricket. Now I'm excited to shift to Bangalore where my sister works."
Stayed in Delhi, made in Bengal
Although Prayas began his cricketing sojourn at the Ram Pal Cricket Academy in Gargi College in South Delhi, he made his first breakthrough in Bengal. Representing a cricket club from his native place Durgapur, Prayas caught everyone's attention in the Ambar Roy Sub-Junior Under-14 cricket tournament.
He was subsequently picked for the Bengal U-16, which forced him to move away from his parents in Delhi and shift base to Dumdum Park in Kolkata to live with his grandparents. But even as success knocks on the doors of Prayas this early in his career, his father Kaushik wants the young boy to become a good human being above everything else.
"It's been a struggle as we keep shuttling from New Delhi to Kolkata. But we are happy now. He should keep working hard. He should make our country, state our roots proud. My first priority is he should be a good human being, be down to earth," his father said.