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Cricket creates community among grad students

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Cricket creates community among grad students

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By John Hagerty, deputy sports editor

Northeastern graduate students can often feel disconnected from campus without activities or programming specifically geared toward them. For some this year, joining the club cricket team gave them that feeling of community they felt they were missing.

The club was founded in 2012 and the current 20-person roster contains students from India, Pakistan and South Africa who are pursuing degrees in academic fields from computer science to business administration.

“It’s a way to connect to different people,” first-year engineering management master’s student Aditya Patil said. “It gives me a chance to connect with people from different places and in different fields.”

Playing and watching cricket is an integral part of culture in India, and India’s national team is currently the No. 1 team in the world according to the International Cricket Council’s rankings. Members of the team who grew up in India played cricket throughout their early lives.

“Cricket is a big craze [in India]. Everyone in India, their lifestyle changes according to cricket,” first-year information systems master’s student Krupashankar Sundararajan said. “When I came here to study and I found a team like this, I was so excited to be a part of it. I’ve been playing cricket for a long time. For me, it’s reliving those memories from the past.”

NU cricket’s team captain, Parth Thakkar, gives direction to his teammates. / Photo by Jon Polen

The team won the American College Cricket Northeast Regional Championship Oct. 7-8, including wins over Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University. The team’s tournament run was capped with a 143-108 win over University of Massachusetts Lowell in the finals.

Winning the regional championship qualified the team for the American College Cricket National Championships, which will be played March 14-18 at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Florida.

To practice leading up to the national tournament, the team primarily scrimmages and focuses on establishing a rapport with each other.

“It’s basically team building — getting to know each other, getting to know our roles, what we are supposed to do,” Patil said. “It’s a team game, but everyone has their own roles.”

The team currently practices twice a week in Cabot Center and receives a sizable budget from the university.

“Even though it’s a niche sport, we are treated very well,” said Zulqarnain Khan, team president and second-year electrical engineering Ph.D. student. “The school has been really good in terms of backing us. They cover almost 70 percent of the cost for our trip [to nationals], which otherwise we could not cover. The facilities are great.”

The team recruits via its Facebook page, word of mouth and the activities fairs and had around 140 attendees at its fall tryout. Khan hopes to attract more undergraduates, as the team only has one on the current roster and there has been high turnover among the graduate students.

“One of the goals moving forward is to have more undergrads,” Khan said. “They stay here longer and it’s good for the club.”

The club has a growing alumni network, with a presence in cities across the country.

“People have received references, and gotten interviews or even jobs through our alumni,” Khan said. “At this point, we have 50 to 60 alumni who have graduated and are working at different companies in the U.S.”

Having been on the team for the past four years, Khan can fully appreciate the outlet that cricket provides for the team’s members during their Northeastern experience.

“As a Ph.D. student, there aren’t a lot of activities that you get to do, so this is nice to have something that suits my schedule,” Khan said. “The sense of community is really nice. In these four years, my game has grown so much. The club has a good system in place. Players come, they gel in and get better.”

As the team continues growing, they aim to continue building the community and sharing their passion for cricket. Club cricket’s success on the field and friendship off the field epitomize the ultimate goal of club sports.

“In the game of cricket you get to know people,” second-year industrial engineering master’s student Prajwal Parlawar said. “You learn what they think and what’s their perception of the game so you discuss a lot. Everybody coming together, playing cricket, it’s a nice distraction from our studies and assignments, I think it’s a good energizer for us.”

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Cricket creates community among grad students