Priyam Garg, named India U-19 skipper, paid tribute to his father, who drove a school van to fulfil his son’s ambitions.

Garg, on Monday, was named captain of the Indian under-19 team for the World Cup to be played in South Africa from January 17 to February 9.

The 19-year-old, who hails from Quila Parikshitgarh, a village, about 25km from Meerut, took to the game at the age of six.

“My father Naresh Garg drives a school van. I have three brothers and three sisters. I am the youngest in the family. My father didn’t have enough money to take care of such a big family and support my cricket career,” Garg was quoted as saying by PTI.

“But seeing my love and dedication for the sport, he borrowed money from his friend, bought me a cricket kit and arranged for my coaching. I started playing cricket and due to my father’s hard work, today, I’m captain of the under-19 team,” he added.

Garg suffered a personal setback when he lost his mother at the age of 11. “My mother died in 2011, and it was her dream that I play cricket for India. She is not here to see me become captain of the U-19 team. I regret that the most.”

India is the most successful team in the tournament, having won four titles till date, including the previous edition in 2018. Garg is now expected to follow in the footsteps of Mohammad Kaif (2000), Virat Kohli (2008), Unmukt Chand (2012) and Prithvi Shaw (2018).

Garg has a first-class double hundred and a List A century to his name. He was a part of the India C team that finished runners-up in the Deodhar Trophy.

“I used to practice cricket for 7-8 hours a day while continuing my studies. Sanjay Rastogi, my coach in Meerut, used to help me. Because of that and my father’s efforts I was selected in the Ranji team in 2018,” Garg said.

A right handed top-order batsman, he scored 800-plus runs in his debut Ranji Trophy season for Uttar Pradesh, and scored a century on his first-class debut, which was against Goa. Like every other Indian cricketer, Garg aspires to meet batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.

“My dream is to meet Sachin Tendulkar and take tips from him and wear the blue colours of team India one day.”

Garg, two other UP cricketers – vice-captain Dhruv Chand Jurel and Kartik Tyagi – have been selected in the under-19 squad. UPCA Director Yudhveer Singh hoped they would be as successful as some of their predecessors.

“UP Cricket has provided Indian cricket with top players like Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, RP Singh, Praveen Kumar, Kuldeep Yadav. Kuldeep is still in the team. We hope that in the coming years Priyam, Dhruv and Kartik will shine in the Indian team as well.”