In 1983, an Indian pacer who consistently bowled with the speed of 140+, and hit the balls out of the park while batting won Men in Blue the first World cup, breaking the West Indian domination. After the legendary Kapil Dev, however, India failed to produce an all-rounder who could bowl with consistent 140+ speeds, as well as score some crucial runs with the bat. India did witness fast bowling all rounder s in the form of Irfan Pathan, Sourav Ganguly, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar, but their consistent speeds were less. It took India a long time when in the U-19 world cup 2022, Rajvardhan Hangargekar grabbed the attention of the cricketing world with his consistent speed, disciplined line length and the long sixes he hit.
Simon Doull was so impressed with the youngster, that right in the first match of the world cup, he referred to Hangargekar as one of the rarest Indian bowlers who could bowl with consistent speeds and great discipline. Watching him, Irfan Pathan predicted that IPL franchises would look forward to having Hangargekar in their team and that he had a good chance to go above his base price. And his predictions were turned right when the U-19 stalwart was selected in one of the most consistent and successful teams of IPL. He entered the whistle podu family at 1.5 crore INR.
It was a very special moment for Hangargekar, whose father was a huge fan of CSK. On the one hand, he was extremely happy to be a part of the team his father loved the most, on the other, he was left teary-eyed to see that his father was no more to witness this alive. Hangargekar, who lost his father in 2020 due to covid said " I'm sure wherever my father is, he will be extremely proud to see me play under the guidance of his favourite player for his favourite team".
Hailing from Tuljapur, a town known for its religious heritage in Maharashtra, the youngster was a renowned name in the tennis ball leagues in his town. Fortunately, he was spotted by a few people who were impressed with his performance. In the 2016-17 session, the strength and conditioning coach Tejas Metapurkar was impressed him when Hangargekar was playing U-16 for Maharashtra. The former had a latter huge impact on the latter, as he told him to shift to Pune for better fitness sessions, but when the youngster faced later huge a few issues, Metapurkar let him stay at his residence in Pune.
Metapurkar always saw the dedication of Rajvardhan and requested Mohan Jadhav(who also coached Ruturaj Gaikwad) to coach him. Initially, when both of them checked the speed of Hangargekar, he clocked 127, but in the year to follow, he increased it to 10 kmph more, which impressed both of them yet again. Continuing his impressive run, he went on to play for Maharashtra senior team in the domestic circuit, and the Men in Blue U-19 team.
Apart from his bowling, he is a pinch hitter who can send the ball back 20 rows back in the stands. When U-19 cricket team members of India were asked who can hit the longest sixes, most of them mentioned Hangargekar. His contribution to the Asia cup was great. Against Pakistan, when India was in trouble, he came in and hit some crunchy shots to reach a decent total. In the encounter against Ireland in the World cup too, he hit 5 sixes in quick succession to power Men in Blue to 300+ runs. He is one of those players who contribute to the team in some form or the other always.
CSK have loved players like these. Shardul Thakur, Deepak Chahar and now Hangargekar, they have loved to have Indian fast bowling all-rounders. His addition has proved to be a boon to them increasing their batting depth till number 10 if they play him in the eleven. After playing for Maharashtra in the yellow jersey together, he will get a chance to play with Ruturaj Gaikwad in the most loved and most popular yellow jersey in franchise cricket. One doesn't know when he will get a chance to play, but players like him, Bawa, Yash Dhull getting selected by the IPL teams is something to watch. Everyone would be keen to see Hangargekar prove his worth both as a bowler as well as a batter, and if he does, maybe in a few years to come, he just might be the star India was looking forward to.
Authored By:- Ashwin Jangam ( Cricket Analyst, Host and Entertainer)
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