Kolkata: For someone who dreamt to click a photo with his icon Virat Kohli, it was surreal when Prayas Ray Barman was picked for the Indian captain's franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore for a whopping Rs 1.5 crore at the IPL auction in Jaipur.
The 16-year-old leg-spinner, who was Bengal's top wicket-taker in his debut season in the Vijay Hazare Trophy never thought he would be picked at such a price.
"The feeling has not sunk in. But I'm getting a flood of calls, with several in waiting. Never expected I will be picked," Prayas told PTI.
"Like any other youngster in India, Virat is our role model. I always had a dream to click a photo with Kohli. I've tried a lot but did not get any opportunity. Now that I would be sharing the dressing room with my hero is just unbelievable," Prayas said.
"Sharing the dressing room, practising, interacting with the likes of Kohli, AB de Villiers on a day to day basis... It will be a big learning curve for me."
With a tall 6'1 inch frame, Prayas is not a big spinner of the ball but loves to be quick in the air and accurate, something that was the trademark of Indian spin great Anil Kumble.
"I was not that tall. It was only a couple of years ago, I've grown taller as many people here started telling me that I bowl 'Kumblesque'," Prayas, who is a fan of Aussie great Shane Warne, said.
Prayas had an impressive debut against Jammu and Kashmir, bagging 4/20 as he ended up with picking 11 wickets in nine games at an economy rate of 4.45.
But despite the brilliant effort, he failed to make the cut to the Bengal Ranji side.
"Ranji Trophy is a different ball game. I think I've to go a long way to play Ranji. I was in the 15 though and learnt a lot from skipper Manoj Tiwary and coach Sairaj Bahutule," he said.
Giving full credit to his father Dr Kaushik Ray Barman, he said: "He always supported me and never went after me to pursue studies."
"My sister is an IT professional but I chose cricket. He gave me full freedom to pursue cricket. Now I'm excited to shift to Bangalore where my sister works."
"Life has not changed a bit. This is just the beginning for me. I've to learn and keep improving," a modest Prayas said.
Among the first to call him was his father from New Delhi and his advice was simple: "Your real achievement should be when you play for country. Money should never worry you."
Hailing from Durgapur, Prayas grew up in New Delhi where his father, a general physician, works. His initial journey began at the Ram Pal Cricket Academy in Gargi College in South Delhi.
But his growth as a cricketer happened at his native place where he joined Durgapur Cricket Centre under Shibnath Ray and caught the attention in the Ambar Roy Sub-Junior Under-14 cricket tournament.
Picked for Bengal U-16, he shifted his base to Kolkata where he lives in a small flat with his grandparents near Dumdum Park in northern fringes of the city.
"It's been a struggle as we keep shuttling from New Delhi to Kolkata. But we are happy now. He should keep working hard. He should make our country, state our roots proud. My first priority is he should be a good human being, be down to earth," his father said.
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