Thanks to three superstars and national team players who helped lead Hong Kong to the Youth Asia Cup for the first time, King George V school can proudly proclaim itself the city’s top cricket school.
Aarush Bhagwat, Dhananjay Rao and Kalhan Challu spoke to Young Post about what the sport means to them, and how they think it will continue to grow in Hong Kong.
“I’ve been playing cricket since I was born, to be honest,” said 15-year-old Kalhan, who started to take the sport seriously when he joined the Kowloon Cricket Club at the age of five. “What I love about cricket is the fact that one ball can change the course of the game. Cricket is so unpredictable, and that is why it is so fun to play and watch.”
The dedication of the three teen players is especially impressive considering that cricket is a long, gruelling sport known to test athletes’ resolve. According to Aarush, this makes the notoriously difficult task of balancing studies with sport even harder.
“Sometimes I bring my work to my games and do it while I’m playing a game,” said the 16-year-old, who plays for the Hung Hom JD Jaguars. “Cricket takes up a lot of hours of your day. But just keep working hard both in sport and at school, and you will be able to achieve your dreams.”
The boys helped Hong Kong achieve third place at the U16 Eastern Region Cup in Bangladesh last December, but Dhananjay believes they could have done even better.
“I felt like our team had the skills to have won those matches and won the entire tournament,” the 16-year-old said. “I was a little disappointed, and I was also quite sad once the tournament was over.
Still, it was our first tour and it was a great experience.”
All three are confident that Hong Kong is on its way to becoming recognised as a strong cricket side, not just in Asia, but potentially internationally.
“Hong Kong has had some incredible wins recently,” Dahanajay said. “It qualified for the 2018 Asia cup by beating Singapore, as well as the UAE and Nepal. In the Asia Cup Hong Kong nearly pulled off a win over India, fighting really hard and ultimately losing by only 26 runs, but showing the world what they are capable of in the process.”
Aarush, Dhananjay and Kalhan certainly all plan to fly the flag for Hong Kong and pursue professional careers in cricket.
“I plan to play professionally and I look forward to playing around the world with and against some of the greatest in the sport,” said Aarush, who’s been playing since he was five.
Kalhan, meanwhile, wants to play professional test cricket – the type of cricket were matches can last up to five days.
“I don’t want to be a player that makes the team, then gets dropped to the side due to non-performance,” he said. “I want to be on a professional team – and make sure I stay in that team for a long time.
What animal are you most like when you’re on the field?
Kalhan: A panther, always ready to pounce when needed
Dhananjay: Great white shark, they’re enigmatic predators and are at the top of the food chain wherever they are.
Aarush: I don’t compare myself to anything or anyone ever
What is your favourite music to listen to before a match?
Kalhan: Hall of fame by The Script
Dhanajay: Believer by Imagine Dragons
Aarush: I like listening to calm music before a match to allow me to focus and keep my mind calm and relaxed
What’s do you eat before a match?
Kalhan: Games are usually in the morning, so I look to eat a good breakfast. Omelette, spinach and avocado is my standard
Dhananjay: Yoghurt and Banana
Aarush: I mainly try to eat as healthy and appropriately as possible to allow me to perform at my best.