With every passing run that Sheldon Jackson added, first with Harvik Desai and then in Chirag Jani’s company, at Motera on Friday afternoon, a bespectacled lady, with a nine-month-old in her arms, was getting increasingly emotional.
It was the first time Nidhi - wife of late Saurashtra opener Avi Barot - had brought her daughter Radhya to watch a cricket match. And it was Nidhi’s first time at the Narendra Modi Stadium too since the sudden demise of her husband.
“He would always discuss how eager he was to play at this stadium with us in the stands,” Nidhi said, with her voice choking intermittently during a chat in the spectator gallery.
“It wasn’t to be, so it was hard on me to come today but with all the Saurashtra players constantly egging me on and still treating us as family, I had to be here for Avi and for Radhya to support them.”
Avi, an aggressive top-order batter who opened Saurashtra’s innings in the Ranji Trophy final in March 2020 (it was Saurashtra’s maiden Ranji Trophy title), passed away due to a heart attack in October 2021. He was 29, with his wife expecting the birth of their child.
“He was so positive and it was his dream to be a part of Saurashtra’s winning team in all the three formats. I am glad I am living the second of the titles today for him and I am sure Radhya is soaking in all the positive vibes about him,” she said.
After Saurashtra’s triumph, the duo joined in the celebrations along with the other family members of players and support staff. Captain Jaydev Unadkat was also moved with her presence.
“It was absolutely special. We do remember him every time we play a big game. We did it this morning as well,” Unadkat said. “It’s very special for her to be around because Nidhi and Radhya gave us a vibe that he was with us because he was always chirpy. I am sure that their daughter will also be the same.”