ON SATURDAY, as Chennai Supers Kings player and Indian cricketer Harbhajan Singh launched the cricket academy of Mahesh Inder Singh Sodhi and his son former Indian all-rounder Reetinder Singh Sodhi at Togan village near Mullanpur, the 37-year-old spinner was surrounded by young cricketers seeking autographs and bowling tips. The Punjab cricketer obliged the fans and was of the view that the Punjab government needs to create better infrastructure for the youngsters.
“These days, very few kids are coming out to play outdoor games. We need to encourage them and we have to create better infrastructure. In Punjab, sports infrastructure is lacking. We need more academies like these to come up. These facilities can be in the government or the private sector. From government side too, something has to be done so that more and more kids are encouraged to play. There is no dearth of talent in Punjab,” Harbhajan said.
Harbhajan, who was signed up by Chennai Super Kings in this year’s IPL auction, is now playing for the side after playing for Mumbai Indians for the major part of his IPL career. Singh, who claimed eight wickets in 11 matches for Mumbai Indians in IPL last year, sounded confident that Chennai Super Kings can lift the trophy this year. Chennai Supers Kings will face Kings XI Punjab in their third match of IPL at IS Bindra PCA Stadium, Mohali, on Sunday.
“Hopefully, we can lift the trophy for Super Kings. I am looking forward to playing for Chennai Super Kings. We have played two matches and I will try to contribute for Chennai Supers Kings as I did for Mumbai Indians in the past. IPL is all about bringing the talent out. A lot of talent has come up, not for India, but even for other counties as well. So it is a great platform. We will see a lot of U-19 players and they will do well in the years to come,” Harbhajan said.
Former Indian all-rounder Reetinder Sodhi, who was also part of the ICC U-19 World Cup winning Indian team in 2000, expressed hope that youngsters will benefit from his experience. “My father Mahesh Inder Singh started his academy in Patiala in 1999. He has coached cricketers like Jeewanjot Singh and Mayank Markande. He wanted to train youngsters in this region and we hope more national and international level cricketers will come from this city,” 37-year-old Reetinder Sodhi, who played 18 ODI’s for India.