In what appears to be one of the few silver linings for the struggling England side, opening batsman Haseeb Hameed has undoubtedly been in great form in the ongoing five-match Test series. The 19-year-old has attracted a lot of praise for his mature performance against India.
He became the youngest debutant to open for England in a Test match, when he played in the first Test against India at Rajkot in November. For a player so young, Hameed's gutsy show against the threatening Indian bowling attack in the second innings at Mohali, made everyone stand up and take notice of the right-hander.
His batting prowess has left everyone wondering about the preparation behind his success at such a tender age. But, no one would have anticipated a Mumbai man to play a significant role in Hameed's rise through the ranks early in his career.
There's no doubt that the right-hander has done all the hard work to push his own capabilities, but the guidance and supervision of his Mumbai coach Vidyadhar Paradkar has undoubtedly made a significant difference in his batting ability.
It was back in 2011 when a 14-year-old boy from Lancashire came to Mumbai for a five-week cricket training programme. He was introduced to coach Paradkar by a local police officer - an acquaintance of Hammed's father Ismail.
In his quest to learn the fundamentals of the game, Hameed underwent rigorous training with Coach Paradkar guiding him all the way. From cone drills to sweaty net sessions, the Mumbai coach made him work on numerous aspects of his batting.
"Watching the ball, and that your bat should come down in a line, are the two things I emphasised while working with him," Paradkar told ESPNcricinfo. "I also told him to rotate the strike; you have to take singles. And now see, he was rotating the strike. Picking the gaps and going to the non-striker's end are his forte," he added.
Coach Paradkar, who mentored Zaheer Khan and Ajinkya Rahane, also revealed that Hameed was a very quick learner. "He was a very, very quick learner. Initially he was not playing that straight, so I told him the check drive is the best solution. I gave him some cone drills: keep your bat straight and hit the cone, keep your foot on the line of the ball, bring your bat down in a line, and he did it a hundred times," he recalled.
During his stint at the academy, Hameed took a keen interest in understanding the sport and participated enthusiastically in batting and bowling drills. His hard work paid off in the three club matches he played, where the budding batsman remained unbeaten at a score of about 50 in all of them.
After finishing the training programme at the Paradkar's Academy, Haseeb received a certificate that defined him as a hardworking and sincere player. At the near end of the certificate, Paradkar had also mentioned: "I would not be surprised if he plays for his country provided he works on his running skills."
At the end of 2015, Hameed returned for his second stint with coach Paradkar. "If he nicked the ball in the nets, he would ask, 'What went wrong? Was my bottom hand in the wrong position? Did my bat go to the side? Where was my head?" Paradkar said.
"He was a much better batsman the second time he came. I was very sure at that time his Test debut would come soon," he added further. And when he donned the England whites in the Test series against India, his Mumbai coach was ecstatic for his pupil's growth.
Hameed's story is an inspiration for budding cricketers. The fact that he devoted himself and concentrated on multiple aspects of the game at a young age goes on show his hunger to consistently improve his skills.
This was a great moment for me as well. A really sincere and honest guy. Grateful for his time, minutes after his side had won the game. ?? https://t.co/UNleNotolt— Haseeb Hameed (@HaseebHameed97) December 2, 2016
No wonder he got a pat on the back and huge praise from the Indian Test captain, Virat Kohli, after his performance at Mohali. We bet, Kohli, too, sees the young bloke going places.