Cricket, Aspirations & Attitude with Dhrumil Matkar

I have often wondered about the strange fact that I still have a clearest possible recollection of the very first time I heard about Dhrumil Matkar. The strangeness of it comes from the present knowledge that the name must have meant absolutely nothing to a Mechanical Engineer in his late twenties who thoroughly enjoys watching cricket.

T20 Cricket had taken the world by storm providing quick-fire entertainment and lavish & creative digital advertisements with a good pay scale. The Indian Premier League had made its way into the hearts of people as it promised fast entertainment on a daily basis. That meant many new domestic cricketers had made it in the tournament and took it up as their way to the national team.

Matkar Catches My Eye

As a result of the IPL, we witnessed many premier leagues across the world in the short span of 10 years. Something more definitive and nuclear was needed to provide entertainment via local tournaments. Mumbai Cricket Association came up with the idea of the Mumbai Premier League in 2018.

That’s when I saw this young southpaw playing for Sobo Supersonics where that one hit took his team in the qualifiers and thought of interviewing him. It is always fun knowing the aspirations of these young players. After 3 years I managed to interview him personally. A young southpaw who is in his twenties is driven by a great passion for the game. Let’s hear him out.

So, the first thing about life is people say, “What’s there in a name?”. But the name is what brings us recognition. How did the name ‘Mattu’ come up?

Dhrumil: Well, the name Mattu is rooted in my childhood weight and Surname of course. I use to be chubby in my childhood days and since then my coach started calling me Mattu. But slowly as the game demanded and the determination of going ahead went on increasing, I managed to keep myself fit.

After so many years of cricket at Shivaji Park, Bandra, Azad maidan, Cross maidan, etc. how do you recollect your journey till now?

Dhrumil: Ahh!! My first club was MIG and I thoroughly enjoyed representing it for nearly 10 years. Well, cricket in Mumbai is challenging as well. Uneven surfaces of Azad maidan demands skills, but yes, one has to enjoy all the aspects of the game on the ground. When you’re young and have nothing to lose you tend to enjoy everything that comes across you when you’re on the field. So yes playing all the tournaments in Mumbai was fun and learned a lot from it.

So, you played U-14 Mumbai from the same club.?

Dhrumil: Yes.!! U-14, U-16 and U-19.

Let’s talk about your U-23 selection. Tell me something about it.

Dhrumil: I was playing in Col. C.K Naidu trophy U-23 against Bengal. I remember it quite well. You never forget the moments of a match you do well in, do you? I bagged five for, in fact, I took 8 wickets in an innings. Post my performances in the tournament brought me a big moment. I got selected for the Ranji Trophy in the Mumbai team. Well, one who plays domestic cricket knows how important the tournament is. Representing Mumbai in the domestic circuit is none less than a big achievement. 2015-2016 was the year but it was not until the 2018-2019 season I made my debut in the domestic circuit.

Aspirations

Well, we all know how difficult it is to get through such fierce competition on a lower level to enter a team of Ranji Tournament. The competitors here are fierce, tough in terms of class where batsmen and bowlers yield nothing to their predecessors, and also the fielders are hugely superior.

The matches are telecast live and cricketers play with the huge expectations of the people they know in their localities. I realized Dhrumil was speaking with a childlike smile hiding his excitement of speaking about his aspirations. I have always enjoyed the excellence of southpaws. Be it Lara, Gilchrist, Graeme Smith, Yuvraj, or Ganguly. There is something about left-handers that stands a little different. And here I was interviewing one.

Any specific innings of the Ranji team you want to share? The innings or matches that you think brought the best in you.

Dhrumil: Umm… I remember playing against Vidharba in 2018-2019 where I bagged a five-for. I can never forget the moment. I was turning the ball with more revolutions on it. Understanding the depth of the crease and planning your pitch with the trajectory you want, imparting some extra revolutions by dropping the length marginally and executing the wicket. Everything went my way and also, I scored a combined 100 runs in both innings.

And then came MPL?

Dhrumil: Yes.!!

I can only recollect one moment and then I wanted to have a lot of discussions with you.

Dhrumil: hahaha!!

Attitude

Tell me something about your MPL memories.

Dhrumil: Well, Sobo Supersonics have been a wonderful team. Right from the owner to all the support staff is electrifying. We needed a win anyhow to get into the top two. And then it came against the Lions. We needed 46 off 3 overs. But Sujit brought the game alive and then we needed 15 off the final over. When I came to bat, we needed 4 off 2 and Gaurav ran a run. In such situations, no cricketer can be pre-meditated. The situation is tense, all the eyes upon. All you see is a white rotund thing in the hands of a bowler. You become deaf to cacophonies of the ground. Dube is not as quick as fast bowlers usually are. I was expecting a fuller length and maybe a Left-handed batsman makes a bowler’s length uncomfortable. He bowled fuller and I timed it well enough to send it past the long-off boundary.

Matkar’s last ball six off Dube’s bowling

I saw it. The crowd went in rhapsodies. The cherry on the cake was your celebration.

Dhrumil: Well, my celebration that day displayed all my emotions which I usually don’t reveal on the ground. There are times when frustration mounts on you, all your opponents are here to compete with you. Your skills and ability are sometimes overshadowed by the performances of your opponent. But that’s what the game is right? It’s all about giving your best, doesn’t matter if your opponent is better than you. You try to excel in every department you work in. That’s what brings the best in you.

Ahh …!! That match has brought us here today. Seems you try to keep calm like MS.

Dhrumil: It was my dream to play under MS. Any modern-day cricketer would say this. But nevertheless, he has inspired millions in the country. I follow him a lot, try to imitate him by staying calm on the field. Right since I started playing, my father has kept me going in this sport. He has inspired me a lot. Also, the six that took us to qualifiers was not the only one that I count in the priced moments. I bagged a five-for in one match also I managed to get out the sublime Ajinkya Rahane. These moments too take a top spot in my memories.

Dhrumil talks about his comeback and favourite wicket

Unfortunately of this pandemic, 12 months every sportsman’s career has been lost. What’s your take on this?

Dhrumil: Honestly speaking, the pandemic has given us all the opportunity to utilize 24 hrs of the day to work towards our goal. It kept cricket and cricketers apart physically but I managed to stay fit and work out and come back even stronger. A sportsman cannot take negatives. At least, I don’t want to. I managed to stay fit and work out regularly, tried utilizing the time till now.

Like every other cricketer, I know you too aspire to represent India on higher levels of the game. But I must confess you’ve intricately displayed all your emotions and aspirations you have towards your game. I wish to see you on the higher levels of the game and wish you all the very best for the road ahead. The T20 world cup is ahead, and Oman will soon play for qualifying rounds. You will be representing the country for practice matches with Oman soon, even though it is arranged by MCA. But wishing you the very best for the OMAN tour as well.

Dhrumil: Thank you!! Thanks a ton, mate!!

My call on Dhrumil Matkar

So, this was a brief discussion we had over a video call. Talking to such electrifying young cricketers is always fun. But Mattu as they call him has amazed me.

Do these interludes reveal anything about Dhrumil and his attitude towards cricket? I think they do because they show his mind and how he would never allow it to relax or divert. Probably he reasoned that if he relaxed if he became, mixed and lived like one of the ordinary cricketers, he would lose his concentration. And I got to see that same concentration while I interviewed him. Calm, relaxed and focused. If he manages to pass all the obstacles he faces in his professional life, we soon will see him competing on higher levels. I wish he does…!!

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