With the curtains all set to go up on the Toyota University Cricket Championship in Mumbai on Saturday, the best words of encouragement have come from former Pakistan speedster and Test captain Wasim Akram.
The Pakistan legend, who joined Shah Rukh Khan as the brand ambassador of the inaugural edition of the University championship, feels not only exposure on television, the "event will inject a lot of confidence into the students, not only in their academics but cricket as well. This will help them shine in their lives."
Akram lauded NDTV's gesture saying it has given fresh life to University cricket in India. "One hundred and twenty teams were vying to get into TUCC and I think this is the start of many good things to come for students who see cricket as a career. I am waiting to see all the talent on offer," said Akram.
Mumbai University (Western Wolves) take on Jamia Millia University (Northern Stars) in the opening match of the championship at the floodlit Brabourne Stadium on Saturday. Mumbai finished runners-up in the all-India Rohinton Baria Trophy played in Manipal in January. Siddhesh Lad, who had made his Mumbai ODI debut with a century, will be one to watch out for.
"It's a great headstart for many players. I believe Mumbai and Bangalore have some exciting kids. If they do well, the selectors of India will take notice and since we will surely help pass on some advice. It's a great opportunity that we never got when we were in University," said Akram.
Northern Stars or the Jamia Millia boys were runners-up in the North Zone University Competition losing to the Aligarh Muslim University, but in the 2012-13 All India University tournament, the boys from Delhi defeated South Zone Champions, Madras University in a one-sided quarterfinal.
Jamia, however, lost to the mighty Mumbai University team in the semifinals and hence Saturday's opener will be a grudge match for the Delhi boys. Someone who knows a little bit about rivalries, Akram has just one tip for the contestants: "Just go out and enjoy the game. If you think (on the game), you win."