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Promising player

K. Martin Sanjiv, has started to climb the rungs of a cricketing career by earning a place in the under-15 side. A profile of the promising youngster.



K. Martin Sanjiv. Pic. by M. Moorthy

YOUNGSTERS BRING hope, and K. Martin Sanjiv certainly does. A promising middle-order batsman and a useful new ball bowler, he has brought cheer to the Tamil Nadu cricketing scene, during a phase when the senior players from the State have been cold-shouldered by the National selectors.

It was a welcome moment for Tamil Nadu, when the National junior selection panel, headed by Dilip Vengsarkar, picked Martin in the Dubai-bound Indian side for the under-15 Asia Cup, beginning in December. The lone cricketer from Tamil Nadu to receive the honour, although wicket-keeper batsman H. Gopinath, who too was among the probables for the competition, did come close to being chosen.

Hailing from a humble background in Kerala, Martin has already learnt quite a few lessons from life and one of them is — `never give up.' A student of St. Patrick's Anglo Indian School, Adyar, Martin, found in cricket, an avenue to rise above the ordinary.

It was during a summer camp at St. Patricks that he was spotted by coach S. Vincent. This was the beginning of a journey that would see him win laurels for his school and State.

Martin found a place in the Nungambakkam CC side, a fifth division outfit in the MAC-TNCA cricket league for the 2000-2001 season, and came up with a century as well. A slot in the City under-14 team beckoned.

Martin grabbed the opportunity with both hands, claiming four wickets sending down seamers against Combined Districts. Soon, he received a look-in in the State under-14 side, here too Martin made his presence felt, producing a match-saving century against Andhra, when Tamil Nadu, chasing 360, was 90 for five on the final day at Visakhapatnam.

His ability to shoulder responsibility saw Martin being appointed the captain, and though Tamil Nadu could not win the Krishnamurthy under-15 South Zone Tournament, again at Visakhapatnam, the following year, he once again caught the eye - 106 against Andhra, 67 (Karnataka), 46 not out and four for 12 (Kerala).

It goes without saying that Martin's school has played a significant role in his progress, and the teenager does not forget to thank Rev. Brother Bosco, who remains a source of inspiration for him at St Patrick's. "I stay at the school, and it has supported me in every respect,'' says Martin. Turning out for the Grand Slam CC in the MAC-TNCA third division league has also helped quicken the youngster's learning process.

Coaches K. Barathan, R. Asokan and S. Vincent are working on the boy, and they are pleased with his progress. "As a cricketer, he is highly talented, plays for the team, and takes care of the other boys. He is hardworking, a very good athlete and a brilliant fielder,'' observes Vincent. Former Tamil Nadu under-22 all-rounder Russell Radhakrishnan, who has taken a personal interest in Martin's cricketing career, notes that the boy's maturity far exceeds his age.

Given these attributes it is hardly surprising that Martin, who began as a right-winger in football, is now climbing the cricketing rungs at the junior level. How did his selection in the India under-15 side actually come about?

"There were fifty of us in the camp, we were divided into four teams, and all the sides played two matches each. I did well, and when I came to know that I had made it, I first wanted to thank all those who encouraged me,'' says Martin.

His favourite cricketer happens to be South African captain Shaun Pollock. "He moves the ball so well, and can strike it hard with the bat. One day I should be an all-rounder like him.''

Martin, who is following in the footsteps of K. Shree Vasudeva Das, who too earned a place in the India under-15 side, has got his priorities right. "I always feel that I should win or save the game for the team. Play for the team.'' Right words from a youngster, who is taking the right path to success.

S. DINAKAR

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