Delhi has produced millions of cricketers who went on to represent India and the Sonnet Cricket Club has played a major role in this. From Anjum Chopra to Rishabh Pant many players have honed their skills under Dronacharya awardee late Tarak Sinha. Often referred to as Ustaadji by his students, Tarak was a pioneer when it came to coaching and had a knack for identifying young talents. Atul Wassan, who was also Ustaadji’s student, once went on to mention how “Sonnet encouraged boys from middle and lower-middle-class”.
Born in Dehradun, Ayush Badoni comes from a middle-class family. He moved to Delhi when he was young, and his cricketing journey began under Ustaadji.
Pant, who was three years senior to Badoni, was making heads turn in U19 when Badoni was making a name for himself in U16 cricket. Some good performances in local tournaments helped him gain a spot in Vijay Merchant U16 Trophy. His first big performance came against Jammu and Kashmir where he went on to score 209 runs and then picked up 5/48. He ended that season with 426 runs at an average close to 86 with two tons and a fifty. He also chipped in to pick up 17 wickets in that season.
A year later, he made it to the National Cricket Camp and was one of the probables that year. He got into Cooch Behar Trophy where he made 156 runs in the tournament. He then featured in the Vinoo Mankad U19 Trophy where he chipped in with a couple of cameos and a half-century.
Consistent performances helped him find a place in the Indian age cricket. In 2018, he was a part of the Indian team that toured Sri Lanka ahead of the Asia cup.
In the first youth Test, He picked up four wickets to restrict the hosts to 244. In return, he came in at number 7 and went on to score an unbeaten 185 from 205 deliveries.
In the second innings, he also picked up a couple of wickets as India won the match by an innings and 21 runs.
While he couldn’t do much in the second Test, he picked up four wickets in that match.
In the youth ODIs during the same series, he came in when the team had lost three quick wickets and went on to score 36 runs and helped the team to reach a decent score.
The consistent performance on the tour helped him to seal his place in India’s U19 team for Asia Cup. When Jaiswal scored 92 in the first match, Badoni’s 66-ball 65 helped the team to reach 221.
While he had quite a few good knocks down the order, his unbeaten 52 from 28 deliveries which included four sixes from four deliveries caught everyone’s eyes.
While his batting impressed everyone, he knew he had to keep working on his bowling. In 2019, he made sure that he went back to the basics and began to learn new bowling variations including carrom ball.
While his teammates Padikkal, Jaiswal among others grabbed big money in IPL, Badoni was on the other side. He went unsold multiple times.
Blame the place he comes from, he had to wait for a couple of years to find a spot in the Delhi team.
Still, he continued to perform big. One of his best performances in 2019 was during the Hot Weather Cup where he smashed an unbeaten 83 from just 61 deliveries for his club.
A year later, he made his T20 debut for Delhi in the 2021 season. Despite being in the line-up, he couldn’t get an opportunity to showcase his skills. He neither batted nor bowled for four innings. When he was given an opportunity against Puducherry, he managed only eight runs.
In the 2022 IPL, he finally got an opportunity. Soon, he became the baby AB of the camp, and against Gujarat Titans, he didn’t have to do much and just play his natural game. From his own words, he loves batting under pressure, and today, it was one of those days where everything fell in place for him. It might be very early to call him “Baby AB”, but he certainly does have a 360-degree game, and he could turn things around for his franchise this year. Nevertheless, he is the one for the future.