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Hiran Patel Is Canada’s Best Batting Prospect
By Orin Davidson
July 15th, 2009
The best batsman from the just concluded International Cricket Council (ICC) Americas Under-19 series is a talented, hard working and hungry youngster who helped Canada win the title for the first time in several years.
Hiran Patel batted like a man among boys in compiling a tournament high 305 runs that earned him the tournament’s most valuable player award.
He is slightly built but packs deceptive power in his strokes which along with unwavering concentration, makes it easy to understand why he stole the show in the six-team competition.
Patel began his campaign with 53 not out against the Cayman Islands, then followed up with 71 not out versus Bahamas, then he hit 31 against Argentina, compiled 55 from the United States and he wrapped up his campaign with a belligerent 95 against the top rated Bermuda team.
It was his very first competition at Under-19 level and at 17 years of age, Patel is showing the type of intense promise that Canada’s cricket bleeds for to take it to the next level in the senior ranks.
“I wanted to do my best in this my first year, (Under-19s) and the hard work I put in, I believe prepared me well,” said Patel.
Having played once before at Under-15 level for his country, Patel was spotted early by the Canadian coaches and he was included in a squad of senior players for a training camp in Sri Lanka earlier this year.
Rigorous daily sessions of net practice, physical training and classroom stints, conducted by among others ex Sri Lanka captain Marvan Attapattu, were adhered to unstintingly by Patel and the sacrifice paid dividends when the right hand opener came up against his fellow junior level bowlers at the Maple Leaf facility in Toronto.
Canada went into the tournament as underdogs behind defending champions Bermuda and 2005 titlists United States.
And by the time they came up against the U.S. in Canada’s fourth game, the stage was set for a monumental showdown between the two neighboring arch rivals.
As was the case in the first three games, Patel laid the foundation in association with fellow opener in an opening partnership with Ruvindu Gunasekera in what became a match winning total.
One hundred and ninety-three runs is not in normal circumstances even a challenging score, but in difficult batting conditions, it proved good enough for Canada whose bowlers drew on the inspiration by their openers and went on to rout the United States for 131.
Buoyed by his team’s success in overcoming a major hurdle in the U.S., Patel came back the next day and put the Bermuda bowlers to the sword. He craved up the attack in a scintillating innings that barely fell short of the competition’s first century.
Patel’s 95 was the innings of the tournament and he only showed glimpses of vulnerability when approaching the historic land mark, he played a nervous drive that was caught, thus ending a brilliant performance.
Coached by his father since his early days, Patel said he did not have to be goaded to like cricket, because like most players of Indian heritage, the sport is a religion
“He is a cool dad and I get all the support I need from him”, the youngster declared.
Patel plays for Victoria Club in Toronto, where John Lall, a senior club official keeps him on the right in managing his domestic cricket activities.
Currently a student at Pearson High School, Patel’s biggest challenge these days is splitting his time between his cricket and academics, such is his demand by club and country.
With Canada taking the first of two spots for the ICC Under-19 World Cup qualifying competition, by virtue of their title win, he will have his hands full in September when the 10-team competition bowls off at the said Maple Leaf facility.
But the young batsman, is not merely setting his sights on junior level competition, he is already looking forward to playing for the Canada senior team which will engage the West Indies and Kenya in a tri-team 50 overs series later this year.
And who could fault the 17-year-old for harboring loft ambitions. He has already proven himself against his peers and justifiably, the sky is the limit for Hiran Patel.
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