India’s domestic cricket has produced many prolific cricketers, some of who went on to represent the country while some lived their stardom in the domestic circuit. Mumbai has always had the proficiency and talent to produce quality cricketers. A team with record Ranji Trophy titles is none less than public sector exams to crack in. Many cricketers, unable to crack into the Mumbai team have opted to play for other teams. And then we have talent hidden in the offices, one of them being the Railways team. We found one of such amazing talent of proficient equivalence and sublime skills hidden in the dense population of this amazing city.
A 9-year-old, sweating it in the nets for his school team (Parle Tilak Vidyalaya English Medium) and his cricket club MIG Cricket Academy, was known for his enthusiastic batting and penchant for playing every ball that was thrown in his line. Not that this kid drew inspiration from any cricketer he saw on television. His father, Vikas Bhatawadekar, was a professional cricketer who represented Mumbai University Cricket Team and played A division club cricket in Mumbai was his biggest inspiration. A hobby was turning into a big dream to be achieved and the first step towards it was when Gandhar was selected for Mumbai under-15 cricket team. Parents are the biggest support behind the chase of any dream you aspire. Father being a professional cricketer who quit because of his back injury backed his son to chase the dream he aspired. His mother Vijaya stood behind her son too and thus began a glittering professional career of Gandhar.
THE BIG BREAK
No matter how good you are, there is always a scope of improvement in whatever you do in your life. This is what a reliable coach will teach you. Mr Ravi Kulkarni, who stood behind Gandhar, and whose guidance brought some astonishing cricket moments in his life, is one of the main reasons behind Gandhar’s consistent performances. And then came a big break when he attended a probable camp at Kapurthala for Railways and one evening he received a call of his selection in the Ranji trophy. Gandhar was selected for the Ranji Trophy, a prestigious domestic cricket tournament of the country.
“To be honest I didn’t know how to react to that because that news took quite some time to sink in. Since the very beginning of my cricketing journey, I always dreamt of playing for the country. But playing for the prestigious Ranji Trophy was also a dream. So receiving that call and getting selected in the Ranji Trophy Team was a very big moment for me and my parents who had given their everything to see me at that stage. I still get goosebumps when I think of that moment and I think I always will.”
Glamour Boy Faces a Hard Time
Opening batsmen, a couple of dull dogs, sent in to discourage the opposition, are always regarded as the glamour boys of cricket. They enter the freshly cleared area shoulder to shoulder with eleven opponents going before to make arrangements for their welcome. But opening the innings is not all a bed of roses. It calls for special qualities of technique and judgment rather beyond those of the rest of the batting order, for the first partnership is the keystone on which will largely depend on the pattern of things to come. The opening batsman need never be dull, but he must be sound.
“The new ball in the hands of the expert can be made to do strange things and, while every batsman will sometimes meet it, shine and swing are the opener’s stock in trade. If there are any shortcomings in the mechanics of his craft they will be exposed in no time, for the new ball moves fast and late, calling for special vigilance and treatment. Not the least important refinement is the art of leaving it alone.”Ian Peebles
With all the training and amateur experience hitherto, Gandhar still aspired to be an opening batsman. And that’s when he hit his hard days. The form was lost, pressure building over scoring low. Happy days were falling back. Hitherto glamour boy was now facing the tough phase.
Bloom and Back
When you are down, questioning your aspirations and abilities, on the verge of giving up the dreams, dark phase lowers your confidence, you tend to go oblivion. That’s when you feel the pressure of the dreams that you aspire, once supported by your parents. Like every athlete, Gandhar was brought back to light by a very special person. The girl who believed more in his dreams and ability than he himself ever did. Sanika, a lady luck Gandhar carried for 4 years, stood behind him. Vizzy trophy was the event coming up. With all belief falling in its place again, Gandhar who was selected for Vizzy Trophy thundered the tournament with style. All the sweat in the nets were brought on the crease with a glamorous display of the sublime skills. Representing West Zone, Gandhar’s scintillating unbeaten 128 in the semi-finals saw his team through the finals.
“Nobody goes undefeated all the time. If you can pick up after a crushing defeat, and go on to win again, you are going to be a champion someday.”Kumar Sangakara
Kumar Sangakara, reminded me of Gandhar again, when in the finals against North Zone, he once again went on to score a magnificent hundred (146) but his team lost the game. Aspirations were still alive, heart still beating for the dream. Gandhar announced himself grandly. 2015 was his year.
On September 2017, he joined Central Railways and to be in the Indian Railways team is not an easy job. One has to be superbly talented and hardworking to be in the team. In his first Inter railway tournament, Gandhar again proved why he must be counted among the elite performers. He thundered the tournament with glorious 450 runs in 8 games which got him the Indian Railways Contract. In 2018, Gandhar was selected for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and played for his team for another two years.
It’s still a long way to go, to be at the top you need to compete with the best. And Gandhar has been doing it for quite a while now. We wish him all the luck and look forward to seeing him playing his glorious cover-drives, and straight drives. We hope to see him on a bigger level of the game.
I write anecdotes on nail biting and eye popping cricket moments. Come read some epic unheard, untouched, nail-biting cricket stories and moments through the perspective of a Mechanical Engineer.