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A spirit that is not afraid

Cricket club grows, finds success

Ask a member of the Cricket Club about how much the team has grown the last six years, and you'll hear anything but chirps.

Though officially chartered in January, the team has been playing in Auburn since 2004.

"We started playing in the parking lots, but gradually we moved to part of the (intramural) fields," said captain Naveenan Thiagarajan, graduate student in mechanical engineering.

In 2006, the team began participating in tournaments across the Southeast, competing against established teams like Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, UAB and Jackson State.

"We participated in the Vanderbilt University Cricket Tournament in 2006," Thiagarajan said, "and we ended up reaching the semifinals. We made the semifinals in a few other tournaments, but couldn't achieve anything big. In 2009 we participated in the Bulldawg Championship organized by Mississippi State University, and we ended up winning the trophy."

After traveling the country and competing in other schools' tournaments, the team decided to organize one of its own.

In 2009, the team hosted the inaugural Tiger Cup tournament, defeating Jackson State to win the title.

In January, the team successfully applied for provisional club status and won its second Bulldawg and Tiger cups.

The team then went to the American College Cricket championships, placing eighth.

"We applied for the club to be part of Auburn University," Thiagarajan said. "Since then, we've gotten our share of support from Auburn and went to the national championships. We put on a good show for what would be our first cricket tournament."

Individual team members have won their share of accolades--Rahul Potghan, graduate student in engineering, was recently named to the ACC's All-American team.

"I really liked playing here when I got here," Potghan said. "We've really shown that Auburn can field a good cricket team. We showed that when we recently played our all-American championships. We missed the semifinals, but I think we performed well as a team."

Like most men across India, Potghan and Thiagarajan have been playing cricket from a young age.

"I've been playing since I was five years old," Potghan said. "I like to compete as best I can with batting and balling, filling every part of the game."

Thiagarajan said the team still faces challenges.

Provisional status means the team is denied funding from the University, so when the team travels, it must pay its own way.

"We've already been to three tournaments in the year," Thiagarajan said. "Going to a fourth tournament has been tough on our pockets. From the second year onward, after a club gets permanent status, from then on we will be funded from organizational funds, which will make our living more comfortable."

The team has remained close through the growing process.

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"I've been playing since 2006, so I know winning didn't come from day one," Thiagarajan said. "We play as a team, we go to tournaments together, and winning tournaments is always special. Playing together has been great, and it's been an honor to represent Auburn."

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