Iconic Sonnet Cricket Club expelled from Sri Venkateswara College

It was not a regular phone call between Sonnet coach Devendra Sharma and his pupil Rishabh Pant on April 30. The coach called Pant, who is undergoing rehabilitation in Bengaluru, to inform him of the expulsion of Sonnet Cricket Club from Sri Venkateswara College in South Delhi. . The news left Pant, whose cricket journey unfolded under the watchful eyes of the late Tarak Sinha, founder of the iconic club, troubled. The Indian wicket-striker immediately dialed in principal Sheela Reddy but his call went unanswered. He left her a message and even asked the governing bodies, via a tweet, of the college to “reconsider” the decision.

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“Yes, I informed Pant last night and he was very upset after hearing that. Wo bhi waha pareshan ho gaya hai and do his best. He also met the manager before his accident regarding the club when talks were underway not to grant the club an extension,” said Devender Sharma, the former Delhi cricketer who has managed the club since Tarak’s death. Sinha in 2021.

For over two decades, the club has been based at Sri Venkateswara College and also trains the college’s cricket team free of charge. Many aspiring cricketers in the past were admitted to college mainly because of Sonnet and the late Tarak Sinha. The expulsion has now left more than a hundred trainees without places to train midway through the club’s season.

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“April 30 is your last day, we have been informed by the authorities and now we have nowhere to go. I still don’t know the reason, nobody gave me a reason. If it’s the money we can raise the money but this place was everything to us. We maintained the pitch, trained the college team for free and we didn’t charge underprivileged boys a penny. Now my 100+ cricketers are without nets in the middle of the season. The DDCA T20 League continues; The Challenger Trophy will start soon. Where will the children train? asks a helpless Devender.

Sonnet which has produced international cricketers like Pant, Aakash Chopra, Atul Wassan, Ashish Nehra continues to be a formidable team in the Delhi circuit and even now two of their trainees – Ayush Badoni, Hrithik Shokeen – play for IPL teams Mumbai Indians and Lucknow Supergiants respectively. The current interns were inconsolable when Devender informed them of the expulsion on April 30 and kept asking “What happens next?” “.

“I didn’t know what to say to my students. Some even started crying and that was not a good sight for me. I trained them for years and now I don’t know what to tell them. I don’t have a place at the moment and I don’t know where I will be for the next training session. It is not easy to set up a facility in Delhi NCR so easily,” says Devender.

For an extended period during the pandemic, cricketing activities were halted in the capital, but Sonnet continued to pay college ground fees. Devender informs that they maintained the grounds and paid “around 18-19 lakh” during those two years when everyone was mostly indoors due to coronavirus.

“Mr. Tarak had decided that we would pay the fees even during the pandemic, so we did. For this period when there was not much activity or cricket at the time, we paid a total of 18-19 lakh. Even government guidelines didn’t require us to pay the fee for this period, but we did and maintained the grounds as well. We tried our best while we were there and now suddenly we were asked to go. If they had given us six months, that might have helped me find a place for the kids, but I can’t find anyone that early,” says Devender.

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Sonnet is a DDCA affiliated club and Devender says he will try to get in touch with chairman Rohan Jaitley and ask for his support and help for the club.

“I will try to contact Rohan Jaitley ji too. I hope someone will support us so that the club does not suffer. The future of these children should not be affected,” says Devender.

Former Indian cricketer Aakash Chopra, who is now a celebrity commentator, also tweeted about the club’s expulsion, and similar views were shared by presenter Gaurav Kapoor. Devender, however, said none of the club’s alumni except Pant have asked him for help.

“I saw these tweets. No one but Pant has contacted me yet. Meri abhi tak Pant ke alawa kisi se koi baat nahi hui,” Devender says.

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