When playing sport as part of a team, the pressure to play well can be too much for some. But, for cricketer Raag Kapur, it can often feel like he’s bearing the weight of two country’s expectations.
The West Island student currently plays for Hong Kong, but was brought up in India, where cricket is not so much a national sport as a “religion”, he says.
Now 17, Raag has been playing since he was 11, when he was encouraged by his cricket-loving father. He loves being out in the field, because it helps him take his mind off the stress of studying, he tells Young Post. He describes his sport as “a gentleman’s game where one really understands the dynamics of team work”, and looks up to Indian international player and current Test cricket captain, Virat Kohli.
The cricketer already represents Hong Kong on a world stage, but dreams of playing at a professional level against top international test-playing countries, like India, England and Australia.
“I want to develop my game further to contribute solidly in the international arena, and take cricket as my profession,” he says.
“I am very interested in performing at a consistently high level to stake my claims for selection in various International T 20 leagues, like the IPL and Big Bash,” he says.
He is certainly on the right track: he is the only member of Hong Kong Cricket Club to win both the Junior and Senior Bert Oldfield Award for cricketer of the year in the club’s 150-year history. He was also named player of the tournament and best batsman at the East Asia Cup 2015, where he represented the HK A senior side.
Raag not only represented Hong Kong at the Asia Elite Cup U16 Tournament in October 2014, but celebrated several major victories during the Qatar competition.
Taking on teams more accustomed to the challenging hot, dry climate, Hong Kong thrashed Kuwait, Qatar and Iran before confronting rivals Afghanistan in the final. Raag’s confidence was high ahead of the big match after hitting the tournament’s first century in the face-off against Iran, leading Hong Kong to claim the tournament’s highest score of 293. His proud parents watched on as he was crowned man of the match.
Raag and his team had trained very hard in preparation for the tournament, and were boosted by their three straight wins going into the final. However, the Afghan supporters were raucous with drums and trumpets, and the team won the toss and chose to bat first. Hong Kong lost a wicket at the first ball of their innings and never recovered, reported the Asian Cricket Council (ACC). Afghanistan hit hard and built momentum to take them to 216 off their 40 overs.
The loss was offset by a landmark achievement for Raag, who was awarded “batsman of the tournament”. The sportsman, the only member of his team to hit a six during the final, says he was “thrilled” when it was all over. “I felt as if I was living a dream.”
What song title best describes you when you’re playing your sport?
Champion by DJ Bravo.
You can take the abilities of any animal during one competition. Which do you choose and why?
A mongoose, as its reaction time is unbelievably fast!
What’s your favourite thing to eat before a big event?
Mum’s aloo paratha.
10 years in the future, you are a famous athlete. What company do you sign on as spokesperson for, and what product do you promote?
New Balance to promote their bats!