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Hearing loss no handicap for young Mumbai batter Harshal Jadhav

BySanjjeev K Samyal
Jan 04, 2024 07:40 AM IST

The 22-year-old has been named vice-captain of Mumbai’s Under-23 team on the back of sterling scores in local tournaments

MUMBAI: Against all odds, a new player is making his name heard in Mumbai cricket: Harshal Jadhav. A humble background and the handicap of hearing loss has failed to deter his march towards his cricketing dreams. On the basis of his sterling scores in local tournaments, the 22-year-old has been named vice-captain of the Mumbai Under-23 team. Jadhav’s handicap, in fact, is also his strength. His coaches vouch for his tremendous power of concentration, which reflects in his run of scores.

Hearing loss no handicap for young Mumbai batter Harshal Jadhav
Hearing loss no handicap for young Mumbai batter Harshal Jadhav

Capping off a fine 2023, he walked away with the Player of the Tournament and the best batter’s prize at the prestigious Police Shield Cricket Tournament on Sunday. Earlier in December, he also finished as the highest run-getter in the Under-23 selection tournament — the Shalini Bhalekar Cricket Tournament.

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He struck three centuries in three games, including a double hundred, to aggregate 498 runs and be awarded the best batter of the U-23 championship. Despite his challenge in communication, the Mumbai senior selectors have been so impressed with his approach and performances that they made him captain one of the sides before handing him the vice-captaincy of the Mumbai U-23 team.

Jadhav plays with a hearing aid, which helps if one speaks loudly to him. In Sunday’s final against Victory Cricket Club, a team packed with Mumbai players, he played his part in New Hind’s thrilling comeback win after conceding a first innings lead of 153 runs by hitting a 34-ball 61 (5 fours, 4 sixes). In five matches of the Police Shield, he scored 332 runs and claimed 13 wickets.

“I suffered a serious illness when I was four and lost my hearing power. I need to wear hearing aids in both ears but while playing I wear only in one ear. By observing the lips, I understand what the other person is trying to say,” says Jadhav.

Of slender build, Jadhav is known for his speed and agility. He sure is adjusting well to running between the wickets, an aspect that requires batters to communicate clearly.

“While batting, I watch my partner’s reaction, and accordingly go for the run or not. I have very good speed, so I am confident of reaching the other end. There’s no tension there,” he says.

For Sachin Koli, New Hind club’s coach and committee member who has seen him grow as a player at the Matunga maidan first as a school cricketer with IES Raje Shivaji, Jadhav’s hearing problem heightens his focus levels.

“His concentration is amazing; because he can’t communicate much there is no distraction. He is an exceptional fielder who pulls off stunning catches at gully, backward point and easily saves 20-30 runs,” says Koli, terming the player a complete package. “He is a solid batter and a good off-spinner too.”

With his eye-catching performances, the selectors are looking at giving him more responsibility. “I don’t have much captaincy experience but I’m trying to do it,” Jadhav says.

Jadhav has also played for Mumbai in deaf and dumb national tournaments and had won Player of the Tournament awards in its two editions. Initially reluctant to feature in these tournaments, Jadhav got his reward when he won a car for being the standout player. His ambition, however, remains to make a mark and progress in open tournaments.

Coming from a humble background, his motivation is to make it big in the sport and help his family. His father works in the streetlight maintenance section of the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply & Transport (BEST). “It felt very good to get these awards. If I do well, I will get noticed and it will be good for our family,” Jadhav says.

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