New Delhi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni made Jharkhand, known for its hockey players and archers, a name in world cricket with his explosive batting. Now, another player from the state is making waves and has been selected in India’s 15-member Under-19 World Cup team. The cricketer Pankaj Yadav, a native of Panki village in the Naxal-affected Palamu district of Jharkhand, is the son of a milkman and part-time Bhojpuri bhajan singer Chandradeo Yadav and Manju Devi

The 16-year-old Pankaj is a right-arm spinner and is coached by Ranchi club BAU Blasters coach Yukti Nath Jha. He idolises Dhoni and the legendary Australian leg-spinner Shane Warne. His father Chandradeo Yadav, too, wants Pankaj to shine on the big stage like Dhoni. According to him, Pankaj was always passionate about cricket and even though the family wanted him to excel in academics, he encouraged his son to play the game. 

IPL 2018: Mahendra Singh Dhoni Likely to Return as Chennai Super Kings Player

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Yadav once sold a few cows to help Pankaj buy the cricket kit. Now, he says that his decision to do so has been vindicated. Pankaj’s mother and two sisters Priyanka and Pratibha are also elated by his selection.

Pankaj’s talent was noticed in 2014 when he represented Ranchi district in a state-level Under-14 cricket tournament. He then represented Jharkhand in the Under-14 cricket tournaments and was later selected in the state Under-16 team.

Pankaj’s elder sister Priyanka’s marriage will take place in April 2018 and the young cricketer is hopeful of helping his family financially following his selection in the India Under-19 Cricket World Cup team. Younger sister Pratibha is a student class-XI in a school in Upper Bazaar area of Ranchi.

Pankaj is scheduled to play his first match against Australia Under-19 on January 14, 2018. The Under-19 Cricket World Cup is being held in New Zealand with 16 teams taking part in it. The tournament starts on January 13 and the final is scheduled for February 3, 2018. India and Australia have won the trophy thrice, the most by any nation in the tournament.

The Indian team: Prithvi Shaw (C), Shubman Gill (VC), Manjot Kalra, Himanshu Rana, Abhishek Sharma, Riyan Parag, Aryan Juyal (WK), Harvik Desai (WK), Shivam Mavi, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel, Arshdeep Singh, Anukul Roy, Shiva Singh and Pankaj Yadav. The standby players are Om Bhosle, Rahul Chahar, Ninad Rathva, Urvil Patel and Aditya Thakare.