He wants an autograph from his idol, India legend Yuvraj Singh on that bat and wants to keep that World Cup-winning willow as memorabilia. Raj had taken five wickets and scored 35 runs in the final to help India clinch the coveted ICC u-19 World Cup trophy.
Raj, who is currently part of the Punjab Kings squad in the Indian Premier League (IPL), is looking forward to meeting his idol Yuvraj in the cash-rich league and taking tips from him. Raj was picked up for Rs. 2 crore by Punjab Kings in the IPL 2022 player auction.
“I was really happy when Punjab Kings picked me. I am from Punjab. My happiness doubled when Punjab Kings picked me. I have learnt a lot from the seniors. These are international players and have a lot of experience. So, I have been interacting with everyone and tried to learn many things from them,” Raj told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview before IPL 2022 began.
Raj Angad Bawa (Image credit Punjab Kings)
“If I get the chance to meet Yuvraj Singh during the IPL or at any other time, I want his autograph on my World Cup bat,” Raj further said.
‘WANT TO PLAY FEARLESS CRICKET LIKE YUVRAJ’
Raj used to accompany his father Sukhwinder Singh Bawa, a former coach of Yuvraj Singh’s, whenever Yuvraj came to play at Mohali’s PCA stadium.
Watching Yuvraj tonking sixes and claiming wickets in crucial situations, Raj, slowly started developing his interest in cricket.
One day, Sukhwinder asked Raj ‘cricket khelega?’ (Do you want to play cricket?). To this, Raj said ‘yes, I want to play, just like Yuvraj.’
Yuvraj Singh, Sukhwinder Bawa and Raj Angad Bawa
Sukhwinder smiled and started training Raj.
Raj did everything possible to become an asset for his team. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, the 19-year-old ticked every box in style in his career so far.
During the last u-19 World Cup, Bawa scored 252 runs in 6 matches at an average of 63, including 1 century, and claimed 9 wickets. He was adjudged Man of the Match in the final.
“Yuvraj paaji is my favourite player and my inspiration too. I still watch his old batting videos and try to learn from those. The way he used to handle different match situations and take his team to wins, it was just amazing. He was a fearless cricketer. I want to be a fearless cricketer like Yuvraj Singh. I want to play fearless cricket like him. I admire him because he bailed his team out of trouble on numerous occasions. Be it batting, bowling or fielding, he was the perfect package for his captain and team. I have met him a couple of times,” Raj further told TimesofIndia.com.
“He (Yuvraj) was playing a Ranji Trophy match in Mohali. I went there and waited for him with a mini autograph bat. When he came back from the field I rushed and asked him for an autograph. I was thrilled. He is a legend of the game. If I get the chance to meet him during the IPL or anytime else, I want his signature on my World Cup bat,” Raj said.
“The World Cup (u-19) was a big platform for me. The main thing I learnt from the World Cup was how to perform under pressure. There were players from all over the world and we chatted and shared our knowledge. I feel proud when people call me a World Cup winner,” the youngster further told TimesofIndia.com.
“My father was Yuvraj Singh’s coach and he used to take me along for cricket matches. That’s how I developed my interest in cricket. Watching Yuvraj Singh bat and bowl was a treat and fascinating. I used to enjoy his batting, especially the way he used to hit sixes,” Raj further said.
SPORT RUNS IN BAWA’S FAMILY
Raj Angad is the grandson of hockey legend Tarlochan Bawa who helped India clinch the gold medal in the 1948 London Olympics. India had defeated Great Britain 4-0 in the men’s field hockey final. Tarlochan Singh Bawa scored India’s fourth goal in the 67th minute (penalty corner).
Raj’s father, Sukhwinder has been involved in coaching duties in Punjab cricket. His most famous ward is Yuvraj Singh. Apart from Yuvraj, Sukhwinder also coached Reetinder Singh Sodhi, the 2000 Under-19 World Cup winner. Reetinder also played for the Indian team.
Raj Angad Bawa with father Sukhwinder Bawa
“The u-19 World Cup win was a tribute to my grandfather. He has done a lot for the country. Now, it’s my turn. I want to follow in his footsteps and want to make my country proud,” Raj told TimesofIndia.com.
NEXT STEP – INDIAN SENIOR TEAM
Many cricketers who played for India in previous editions of the Under-19 World Cups went on to represent the Indian senior team. The list includes the likes of Yuvraj, Mohammad Kaif, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Venugopal Roy, Shubman Gill, Prithvi Shaw and many more.
For Raj though, the best mantra he can follow at this time is to take it all a step at a time.
“I will keep putting in hard work and will wait for my turn. I am young and will have to play a lot of cricket to reach there (India senior team). The u-19 World Cup is done and the ultimate aim now is to play a senior World Cup for my country,” Raj signed off.