Calcutta, July 14: Did you know Israel plays cricket' If you did, here’s round two: Can you name a player in the Israeli team'
Beaten' Then look no further than Calcutta’s bustling Mullickbazar and say Sanjay Gupta.
The boy who grew up in the heart of Calcutta has made it to the Israeli team that will be taking part in the forthcoming European Cricket Council (ECC) championship in Belgium, which is part of the qualifying process for the 2007 World Cup.
Gupta, who used to play in the local league conducted by the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) in the early nineties, was ecstatic in Jerusalem. He told PTI: “I didn’t expect to make it to the team so soon. This is my first season in the league and I never dreamt of a call to play at the ECC championships, certainly not this year. I see myself being rewarded for all the hard work.”
Married to an Indian Jew in Mumbai, Gupta and his wife emigrated to Israel in 2001.
“With a pool of young talent — immigrants from India, South Africa and England — Israel won the under-13 ECC championships last year and has been slowly nurturing talent,” said Israel Cricket Association’s secretary Naor Gudker, also of Indian origin.
Gupta is not an unknown figure on the Calcutta cricket circuit. He learnt his early lessons at the Mohammedan Sporting cricket coaching camp and went on to represent the club in the CAB first division league. The left-arm medium-pacer and left-handed batsman also played for a club, Kumartuli.
“He was a decent player and a product of the Mohammedan Sporting coaching camp. He was from Mullickbazar where his family ran a garment business. Gupta was with us from 1990 to 91,” recalled Munawar Ali, a coach associated with the club for years.
“Gupta played a leading role when we beat Madras in the final of an invitational tournament for juniors in Bangalore in the early nineties. Ramakant Achrekar (Sachin Tendulkar’s coach) was also there with a team that included Ajit Agarkar.
“Gupta is a good boy and came to meet me with a gift when he came to India about a year back. It’s heartening to know that at least one of my wards is representing a country,” said Munawar.