The men who humbled Australia in their own backyard, defying odds and naysayers, are not the ones staring from the billboards in manic metro cities but shy, quiet and unassuming characters from the suburbs and the hinterlands.
These are strong character artists of an author-backed film rather than mega stars with bulging biceps of 200-crore potboilers.
We present back stories of the magnificent bunch which gave Indian cricket ‘a win to remember’ for ages to come.
Roorkee has always been known for its finest engineering college, now an IIT but this is also the hometown of Rishabh Pant, son of school owner parents. There was a time that on occasions a young Pant, accompanied by his mother would reach Delhi in wee hours of morning on weekends to attend training at the famed Sonnet Club and before the crack of dawn rest at the Gurdwara before heading to the ground. He played an IPL game days after his father Rajendra’s sudden demise.
Son of an auto-rickshaw driver from Hyderabad’s Lancer. He lost his father during the tour but decided to stay for the team and miss the last rites. He got a maiden five for in his debut series and was all choked up while dedicating the feat to the memory of his father. The youngster handled racist abuse from Australian fans with the same resolve.
Son of a bus driver from Karnal, he used to play tennis ball matches for Rs 1000. Delhi first-class player Sumit Narwal brought him for the Ranji Trophy nets where then captain Gautam Gambhir picked him for tournament-proper. It was met with stiff resistance from none other than Bishan Singh Bedi who protested that a player outside Delhi domicile was being picked. This led to Gambhir putting his foot down and he never missed an opportunity to remind the detractors what Saini seemed capable of even at that time.
The heir apparent of Virat Kohli was born in a Punjab village called Fazilka to an affluent farmer family. His grandfather had prepared a pitch in the farming field for his dearest grandson before his father decided to shift to Mohali so that his son’s cricketing ambitions got wings. He was a member of the India U-19 World Cup team. Recently, on his instagram account, he had voiced his support for ongoing farmers’ protest.
The man from Rajkot is not very expressive but has dealt with adversity because of a strong mental make-up largely due to his coach and father Arvind Pujara. He lost his mother while playing junior cricket but never wavered from his goal despite the tragedy. Those hits on the body and knuckles in Brisbane on Tuesday will be the medals he would like to wear all his life.
He comes from Palghar and as a 13-year-old had hit six sixes for his school Vivekananda International Borivali in a Harris Shield Match. Who is the most celebrated alumni of Vivekananda International? India’s white ball legend Rohit Sharma. Both Shardul and Rohit have had the same childhood coach — Dinesh Lad, whose son Siddharth also plays for Mumbai.
The name Washington was his father’s tribute to his own mentor PD Washington, who had funded his studies and kits when he was young and faced financial hardships. A month after PD Washington’s death, his own son was born and he named him Washington Sundar.
He was an opening batsman back in 2016 during U-19 days. But his talent as an off-break bowler came to fore when Rahul Dravid and Paras Mhambrey told him to focus on his bowling in order to make the next grade. But batting remains his first love and India now has a ready replacement of Ravichandran Ashwin as and when required.
From the remote village of Chinnappampatti in Tamil Nadu, the son of a daily wage labourer at one point in time couldn’t buy bowling spikes. And then IPL riches came along but he never forgot his roots.
He has built a cricket academy in his native place and helps talented but needy cricketers. His child was born during the IPL but he will now get to see him for the first time in the next few days and live to tell a tale.
The everyday man on that Mumbai local train travelling from Mulund to Azad and Cross Maidan. Rahane is someone who had a black belt in karate as a teenager, and honed his skills under former India batsman Praveen Amre.
Did you know that Rahane’s first ever first-class match was in Pakistan and not India? It was in Karachi where Quaid-e-Azam champions Karachi Urbans met Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai.