07/07/2018 - 15/07/2018

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Chaudari, India’s hero in WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship

Chaudari, India’s hero in WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship

India was considered the underdog of the tournament, but won two games in the round robin, mostly because of some heroics by their one and only starter, who delivered 585 pitches over six games and also hit a key home run

Gaurav Chaudari’s pitching line against Argentina was not very good as he stepped down with 2 outs in the sixth: 7 earned runs on 8 hits, including 3 home runs. But Chaudari had taken a no hitter into the fifth. After that, he may have struggled because of fatigue: he totalled 35 innings (33 strike outs) in the tournament and delivered as many as 585 pitches. Gaurav Chaudari has started every single game that India has played in the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship.

We met Chaudari (his name is pronounced with an accent on the final “i”) after he picked his second win of the tournament against Denmark. A shy boy of 19, Gaurav speaks very little English and turns to the Head of India’s Delegation Narendra Patal for assistance.

How do you feel, are you tired? “Tired…why?”
Well, you have been pitching every single game: “I am proud of that. I love to take that responsibility”.
Chaudari smiles, when we try to have  him figure out what could have happened with a little run support against Mexico. India lost 1-0 and a win could have sent them straight to the play offs.

Gaurav Chaudari pitching for India at the WBSC Junior Men’s Softball World Championship

In a moment, we are surrounded by the whole Delegation of India. One of the Organizing Committee volunteers joins to hand Chaudari a ball that he wants signed.
“That’s the home run ball” Narendra Patal clears “His homer against Denmark was the first that India ever hit on the world stage”.
Patal adds: “Gaurav comes from a very humble family. The community where he lives raised money to give him the possibility to buy softball gear.”

Gaurav Chaudari grew up in the State of Maharashtra, the second most populous State in the Sub Continent, 112 million inhabitants, and best known for its Capital Mumbai.
It is common to see kids perform cricket on the streets of Mumbai. So the question for Gaurav is if he got started with cricket. He stares, turns to Narendra Patal, then replies, this time in English: “No, no. Softball, only softball.”

Chaudari’s time as a softball player began 6 years ago. He represented his State with honour before he was selected for the National Team.
Gaurav, which is your best ability as a pitcher: “The rise ball, for sure”.
What’s your goal for the rest of the tournament? “I want to go out there every day and do the best I can for India. I am fully motivated.”
In his first year as an Art Student in College, Chaudari believes that softball can help him build a career off the field: “I hope I can find a job in a Government area.”

Gaurav Chaudari responsa to cheering by Canadian fans

“Government supports international level athletes” adds Narendra Patal “And this is good for Gaurav’s future. I hope he can express all of his potential in softball, before that. He has the talent, he would need more qualified coaching. We will turn to the Confederation of Asia and WBSC for help. We have a lot of talent in softball in India. We now need to give these boys and girls a chance to grow.”

As he leaves, Patal adds an impressive figure: “Overall, I would say that a million boys and girls play softball in India.”