Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Nineteen-year-old Vikramjit Singh is tipped to be one of the brightest cricketing talents in the Netherlands. He will take guard against India, the country of his forefathers, on Thursday. As per Vikramjit, this is the biggest match of his international career.

Following the rise of insurgency in Punjab during the mid-1980s, Vikramjit’s grandfather Khushi Cheema had left his village Cheema Khurd near Jalandhar border on a cold December night in 1984 to keep his family safe. They settled in Netherlands later. But life was very hard there as they didn’t know the language and it was a completely different culture. It took them few years to settle down.

They went through a lot of hardships and also faced discrimination. Back then, there was racism and they faced a lot because of their skin colour, turban and beard. But with time, things gradually eased. Khushi Cheema, who started driving a taxi in his new country, handed over his transportation company to his son Harpreet before moving back to India in 2000.

Vikramjit was born in Cheema Khurd and he moved to the Netherlands only after he turned seven. He never had to face problems like his family. At 11, he was spotted at a U-12 tournament by then Dutch skipper Peter Borren. He also got a sponsorship from a sports goods manufacturers company that made bats for stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh.

At 15, Vikramjit was already on the Netherlands ‘A’ side. Two years later, he made his senior team debut.

It is not easy to be a professional cricketer in a country like Netherlands which is obsessed with football with a cricket season ending in September before resuming in March. From 2015-16 to 2019-20, the youngster spent six months at Uniyal’sGurusagar Cricket Academy in Chandigarh to fine-tune his skills. Vikramjit shifted his base to Jalandhar in 2021 and started training with former India U-19 player Taruwar Kohli, who also used to play for a club in Amsterdam.

“I am supported by India throughout my life. Hopefully, not on Thursday because it will be the biggest match of my international career so far,” said the promising cricketer.