IND Vs ENG, 4th Test: How Akash Deep Overcame Personal Loss To Script Dream Debut

Bengal pacer Akash Deep breathed fire on Friday morning, dislodging Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley in the first hour of the fourth India vs England Test. The 27-year-old has had to surmount crisis at home and major obstacles to reach where he is today


AP/Ajit Solanki
Akash Deep, right and Shubman Gill, left celebrate the wicket of Ben Duckett on the first day of the fourth cricket Test match between England and India in Ranchi. Photo: AP/Ajit Solanki

Not for nothing do wise folk say that no success comes overnight, and every achievement is years in the making. Akash Deep made a dream Test debut on Friday, February 23, dislodging the English top-order comprising the in-form Ben Duckett, Ollie Pope and Zak Crawley in the first hour. But there were many an obstacle, and years of struggle that eventually brought him to the forefront of elite cricketing conversations. (Scorecard | More Cricket News)

Mindful of the toil and the people who helped make it happen, the Bengal pacer called up his mother Laduma Devi on the eve of the fourth Test in Ranchi. Unaware of the delightful news she was about to receive, Laduma Devi was busy supervising the construction of their family home in Baddi village of Bihar's Rohtas district when she got the call.


"Ma, I'm making my Test debut for India tomorrow, you have to come," an overjoyed voice on the other end said.

A 300km road journey and a few hours later, the proud mother was at Ranchi's JSCA stadium, watching with tears in her eyes as head coach Rahul Dravid handed the prized India cap to the pacer.

Laduma Devi was soaking it all in with Akash Deep's nieces and his cousin Baibhaw Kumar lending her support in the emotionally charged moment. She and the family had been through adversity and strife but Akash Deep was finally making it all count.


"His father always wished for him to become a government officer, but cricket was his true passion, and I was his partner in crime. I would secretly send him to play cricket and help him pursue his dream," the mother told PTI as she watched her son make a superb debut.

"During that time, if someone heard that your son was playing cricket, they would say 'yeh toh awara mawwali hi banega (he is spoilt and will become a rogue). But we had the faith in him and didn't let him give up despite losing my malik (husband) and beta (son) in six months," she said.

Akash Deep's father Ramji Singh, a physical education teacher in a government school, never wanted him to become a cricketer. Ramji was paralysed after retirement and bed-ridden for five years before breathing his last in February 2015.

In the October of the same year, Akash Deep's elder brother Dhiraj passed away on his way to a hospital in Varanasi following a brief illness, survived by two daughters and wife.

"If his father and brother were alive today, they would be brimming with joy. This is the life's most memorable day and only few are lucky to see it. I'm the proudest mom on this earth," Laduma Devi said.


"Sab bolte hain, padhoge likhoge banoge nawab; kheloge, kudoge banoge kharab. Yeh toh ulta ho gaya. (They say those who study become kings, and those who play end up spoilt. But it's the opposite in our case)."

After his splendid spell of seam bowling on Friday, an emotional Akash Deep dedicated his achievement to his father. "I thought I have to do something after I lost my dad and brother in one year, then I stepped out to play cricket. I had nothing to lose and everything to win," the pacer told the media after stumps on Day 1.


"I dedicate this to my father because it was his dream that his son does something in life. I couldn't do anything in his life (when he was alive), so this performance is for my father. Every cricketer has one dream, to play for India in Tests. That was also my dream," he said.

The 27-year-old seamer has known and tackled bigger challenges than England's 'Bazball' much earlier in life. With the family reliant on his father's monthly pension, he had thought of giving up his passion for cricket and focus on finding a stable income. The youngest among six siblings with three elder sisters, Akash Deep briefly tried his hand at the sand-selling business by renting dumpers near Sone river at the Bihar-Jharkhand border after Dhiraj's demise.


He would also play tennis ball cricket at that time and needed support to keep his cricketing dream alive. His cousin Baibhaw, whose father works at Durgapur Steel Plant allowing him access to coaching in leather ball cricket, proved to be just the man.

"I always felt he was god-gifted and I took him to Durgapur where we got his passport made and he went on to play a tournament in Dubai," Baibhaw told PTI.

The duo landed in Kolkata in search of better opportunities and stayed in a rented flat in Kestopur.

But life didn't become easy with the shift as Akash Deep was rejected by three clubs -- United CC, YMCA and Kalighat. "They said to wait for one more year as their team was out. I thought he would go back. But UCC called him one day saying they would play him without any pay," Baibhaw said.


Akash Deep's rise started from UCC as he grabbed 42 wickets in his maiden season in Kolkata Maidan (2017-18). He later got a chance in the CK Nayudu Trophy for Bengal, which went on to win that year.

He was also selected as a net bowler for Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League that was held in the UAE during the Covid-19 disruption and was eventually signed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore.

With the IPL contract, Akash Deep's family's financial position improved considerably and a three-storied house is currently under construction that keeps his mother busy these days.

"He is not only a good bowler but a handy lower-order batter and can develop into a good all-rounder. I'm so happy for him, they have seen the worst and happy days are here for the family now," Baibhaw said.


(With PTI inputs)