The Indian squad for the final three Tests for the England series was announced on Saturday, with Bengal pacer Akash Deep securing a spot as one of the main highlights. The release of left-arm orthodox bowler Saurabh Kumar and pacer Avesh Khan has brought Deep into the squad to represent against Ben Stokes' men starting in Rajkot on February 15.
The latest development is a reward for the 27-year-old's domestic performances for Bengal. In 29 first-class matches, the right-arm pacer has claimed over 100 wickets at an average of 23.18. However, his 11-wicket haul in two unofficial Tests against the England Lions last month is what impressed the selectors to pick him in the senior team.
He made a name for himself in the domestic circuit and eventually his talent and hard work paid off. After earning a maiden call-up to the Indian Test squad, Deep opened up about how losing two important members of his family within six months changed his life and made him focus more on cricket. Hailing from Bihar, Deep's family was economically backward. The road to fulfilling his dream was not an easy one, and it got worse when he lost his father and brother in quick succession.
"My father and my brother died within six months. I had nothing to lose, and the motivation was that I had to take care of the family. I would play proper leather-ball matches for my club, but initially there was no money. So three to four days a month, I would play tennis-ball matches around the district and earn Rs 6,000 per day. So I would earn 20,000 per month, which helped me run my expenses," Deep told PTI, as quoted as saying by Cricbuzz.
Playing cricket was a crime in my place: Akash Deep
Bihar is a place that does not have a rich history of cricket and Deep said that playing cricket was a 'crime' there in his place. His determination and passion for the game are unmatched and surely his life story is an inspiration to budding stars.
"In Bihar [suspended by the Indian Cricket Board at the time], there was no platform and especially from the place where I came from, Sasaram, playing cricket was a crime. Lots of parents would ask their children not to mingle with Akash as he only plays cricket and your studies would go for a toss. But I don't blame them. What would you have achieved playing cricket in a place like that?,” he recalled.
Deep is yet to make his international debut, but he was part of the Indian ODI squad that recently toured South Africa. Notably, his Bengal teammate Mukesh Kumar is also part of the Test squad.