At just 18 years old, Naman, the left-arm paceman from Lucknow, has been making waves in the ongoing U19 World Cup. His interactions with Bumrah at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) have proven invaluable, as he incorporates the guidance into his game, particularly evident in his notable performance against Ireland, where he secured a four-wicket haul.
Naman’s proficiency in delivering yorkers and his impressive pace have posed significant challenges for opposing batters, resulting in his tally of 10 wickets thus far. As he anticipates the upcoming title clash against Australia on Sunday, his determination to excel and make a mark in the cricketing world remains resolute.
“Bumrah is a source of inspiration for us. I watch his bowling videos a lot. I have met him several times at NCA and talked to him a lot about the mentality and skills of a bowler,” Naman told PTI Bhasha on the sidelines of a practice session at Willowmoore Park Stadium in South Africa.
“He has explained a lot (of things to me), which is useful. He told me how to bowl accurate yorkers, and I have worked a lot (on that aspect) following his advice. I have to work hard to bring more aggression in this (my bowling),” he said.
“I try to learn something from every bowler I like. I try to understand and learn by watching his (Bumrah’s ) videos. I like Shoaib Akhtar’s speed, Dale Steyn’s swing and Mitchell Starc’s aggression very much,” he said.
Naman originally wanted to become a batter but fewer opportunities turned him to bowling.
“I started playing cricket as a batsman but I was not getting many chances. That’s why I started bowling at an academy in Lucknow…I became a left-arm fast bowler,” he said.
Growing up in a middle-class family, Naman faced considerable pressure to prioritize academics, as his father worked as an LIC agent. However, despite the expectations, Naman’s passion lay in cricket.
“Papa always told me to focus on studies. I was in seventh standard and wanted to play cricket. I asked my father to give me three years’ time to prove myself in cricket. My family is very happy with my success today,” said Naman.
“Papa calls me every evening. Seeing them (family) happy makes me feel very good that I did not disappoint them,” he said.
Naman’s aspiration is to evolve into a formidable fast bowler and represent India in Test cricket.
“One day I want to bowl the fastest ball in the world. I also want to play the World Cup with the senior team. But for now, I have to focus on performance. I want to continuously improve my game because the challenges will be even bigger in the future and I will have to prepare my base to face them,” he said.
Expressing contentment with the team’s progress thus far in the U19 World Cup, Naman attributed their success to collective team effort.
“So far, the performance of all the players has been very good. Especially in the semifinals against South Africa, we showed tremendous spirit. I am very happy with the way we are playing and will try to maintain this momentum in the final also,” he said.
“Although I like all formats, I find Test cricket the most challenging. That’s where the real test of a bowler lies and I want to become a good Test cricketer in the future,” said the youngster.
(With PTI inputs)