For three India-born Dutch cricketers it is as much home coming as playing crickettext_fields
New Delhi: Netherlands' Teja Nidamanuru, Aryan Dutt and Vikram Singh might just have a few drops of tears in their eyes when they step onto the field on Friday for their opening World Cup match against Pakistan at Hyderabad.
For them, the trip to India is not just about showing their skills on cricket's grandest stage, but it is also a poignant pilgrimage to their roots.
Though they have found their life's calling as cricketers in the Dutch heartland, the troika has not snapped the delicate umbilical cord connected with the motherland.
Among the three, none is more excited than Teja as Netherlands are playing their first match of the World Cup at Hyderabad.
Teja was born in Vijayawada, some 280 kms away from Hyderabad, and he has a clutch of relatives in that town.
Now, the 29-year-old is excited to play a World Cup game in front of his kins.
"I devotedly keep in touch with my family (in Vijayawada) and I am really looking forward to having them come to the stadium in Hyderabad to watch me and the team play against Pakistan and New Zealand," Teja told PTI.
"Qualifying to play the World Cup in India, the place of my birth, is something that I am extremely excited about.
"I am sure there will be a small tear when the anthems happen and my family is in the stands in Hyderabad," said Teja.
Vikram is waiting for Netherland's trip to Dharamsala for their third World Cup match against South Africa on October 17, nine days after the second game against New Zealand at Hyderabad.
The 20-year-old all-rounder wanted to visit Cheema Khurd in Jalandhar and catch up with his relatives during that extended break.
"I hope to do so. I hope to visit our house in Jalandhar and meet my relatives. Of course, I am trying to make them visit some of our matches, hopefully in Dharamsala or Lucknow," said Vikram, who was born and brought up in the Netherlands.
However, Teja has more vivid memories of time in India, and of the sacrifices his parents, especially mother, had to make to help him realise his dream.
"My parents decided to move to New Zealand in search of a brighter future. It was my father's dream to live overseas and we had the opportunity to do this because my mother got a job in Auckland at the district health board as a dialysis technician. I was just six then.
"There she raised me as a single mother. Life hasn't been straightforward but I've learnt to make the most of my situation," said Teja.
The hard-hitting batter is also a marketing and sports management whiz kid, a qualification that eventually opened the doors for him to play cricket in the Netherlands.
"That's how I got myself to the Netherlands which was for work reasons on a work permit. After working and living there full time for three years, I qualified to play for the Netherlands," said Teja, who once played T20 and List A cricket with the likes of Lockie Ferguson, Mark Chapman and Glenn Phillips for Auckland Aces.
"But cricketing life in New Zealand did not pan out as I desired. So, I looked elsewhere. My journey in cricket has had its ups and downs like everyone else but the love for the game is something that's kept me going.
"I enjoy living in the Netherlands and representing the country that's become my home away from home," said Teja.
On the other hand, Vikram's initiation into the ranks of Dutch cricket was much more seamless.
"My dad played amateur cricket for a club called Dosti in Amsterdam. I used to go with him to the ground and play with other kids there. When I was 11 my father took me to the VRA cricket club in Amsterdam and I started playing," he said.
Vikram said playing for one of the biggest cricket clubs in the Netherlands has its own benefits.
"I am still playing my club cricket with them in the Top League. It is the national centre for cricket as well. That meant I was touring and playing with various youth teams in summer and we were training indoor in winters.
"Last year, I trained my cricket skills in India in Chandigarh and Jalandhar during the Dutch winter and I happened to meet a few Indian players too," said Vikram.
Unlike Vikram and Aryan, who are still finding their steps in top level cricket, Teja has already notified the world of his immense striking skills.
Teja made a 76-ball 111 when Netherlands beat the West Indies in the ICC World Cup qualifier at Harare on June 26 via a one-over eliminator after the teams were tied on 374.
"I have the fastest ODI 100 for the Netherlands and I am proud of it. It means all the much more to me because of us winning and qualifying for the World Cup.0
"Sometimes when you're in the flow things happen and I work extremely hard to be in that position so I can play with freedom. I am glad it can be accomplished under pressure," he said.
The only hurdle for the Dutch cricketers in having a year-full of game-time is the long European winter.
But the 20-year-old off-spinner Aryan Dutt, who traces his origin to Hoshiarpur, Punjab, said they have found a way to avoid getting stuck without cricket.
"The Dutch national team players either go abroad in our winter and play in the southern hemisphere summer or stay with the national team and train indoors.
"We also tour other countries over winter and have several camps in South Africa for example," said Aryan, who is planning to bring his relatives to Netherland's match in Dharamsala.