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It was a reunion that Prasanna Agoram was looking forward to — and preparing himself for — ever since the Indian tour to South Africa had been announced. Even so, the Proteas' performance analyst had goosebumps as walked into the restaurant of the Sandton Sun Hotel for breakfast on Monday. The Indian team had just arrived in South Africa and were making their presence felt.
Prasanna's vigilant eyes, though, were seeking out his 'boys' — men who had become superstars but who, for Prasanna, remained the same starry-eyed kids desperate to make the grade up from junior cricket, approximately six years ago. This was to be an unofficial reunification for the U-19 class of 2005-06.
"I didn't know who to hug first. As I gave Virat a big hug, I saw Rohit (Sharma), Chintu (Pujara), Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma. These were my boys, who I had seen since they were in short pants at the U-15 level. The memories came flooding back," says Prasanna, a grin plastered on his face.
He sounds like a doting guardian. "When I see Jadeja, he is following the trend of growing a massive moustache. But for me, they will always be my kids," he says. "I still remember when these guys were at the U-19 level, at the NCA, their sleeping hours were decided by the coaches and they would be scared to even step out of their room."
Since late 2010, Prasanna has become an integral part of the South African side. His technical and analytical inputs have earned high praise from the likes of Hashim Amla, Graeme Smith and every coach they have had during his tenure.
BUT it was during the mid-2000s at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore that the whizkid from Chennai began taking his first strides along a unique path not tread previously in the cricketing world. On it, he came across the cream of talent making their way up.