How meeting with Ganguly changed Parthiv’s fortune

At first, Ganguly’s comment appeared casual for Parthiv. Then the enormity of what the celebrated Indian captain said hit him. “What he meant was I should not be content with what I was doing, needed to do something out of the ordinary to win back my place in the Indian squad,” Parthiv said in a conversation with Sportstar.

Parthiv Patel realised that his mistakes as a ’keeper, most of them in the last session of the day, were not due to any faulty technique.   -  PTI

A chance encounter with his former skipper at the Mumbai airport changed Parthiv Patel’s fortunes.

Three years ago, Parthiv, after completing his domestic season for Gujarat, ran into Sourav Ganguly while waiting for a connecting flight to Ahmedabad.

A smiling Ganguly, Parthiv’s first Indian captain, asked him “How has your season been so far?”

Parthiv replied, “It’s been good, I got around 700 runs.” Ganguly’s response was sharp. He said, “This you do every season.”

At first, Ganguly’s comment appeared casual for Parthiv. Then the enormity of what the celebrated Indian captain said hit him. “What he meant was I should not be content with what I was doing, needed to do something out of the ordinary to win back my place in the Indian squad,” Parthiv said in a conversation with Sportstar.

The wicketkeeper-batsman realised he needed to shed weight, improve his glovework and begin dominating the bowling.

“I then underwent a rigorous morning-to-evening training and practice schedule in Ahmedabad’s Motera Stadium.

“I would do stringent fitness routines, practise my ’keeping and then work on my batting,” he said.

Realising his mistakes

Parthiv realised that his mistakes as a ’keeper, most of them in the last session of the day, were not due to any faulty technique. “My fitness levels were not quite there and this affected my concentration in the final session where I put down catches,” he admitted.

The left-handed Parthiv, for whom the cut, pull and sweep come naturally, faced difficulties when bowlers, comprehending his game, pitched the ball up. “I worked on my drives through mid-off and mid-on, often practising alone with the bowling machine.”

The diminutive Parthiv, who shed 10kg coming down to 65 from 75, also dieted, cutting out on fat and sugar. Every three weeks, he would travel to Chennai to get himself assessed by strength and conditioning guru Shankar Basu.

Gradually, Parthiv turned the corner. “The results came slowly but when they did, I was a better cricketer.”

Parthiv returned to the Indian team against England this season—he batted and ’kept more than usefully—and then led Gujarat to a historic maiden Ranji title. All the effort had paid off.

He recalled India coach Anil Kumble knocking on his door on the eve of the Mohali Test and telling him “You are going to open tomorrow, I know you can do it.”

Parthiv said, “Anil Bhai’s words were so reassuring since I was playing a Test after eight years.”

The 31-year-old Parthiv responded with innings of 42 and 67 at not out at Mohali and then made a strokeful 71 in Chennai—all as an opener. When Parthiv first played for India in 2002 in England, it was in a different era. “Sachin Sir, Dravid Sir, Ganguly Sir, Laxman Sir and Anil bhai, they were all there.

“The first few days I would observe one legend a day from my corner in the dressing room, just see how he went about his work.”

Old bonds continue and Dravid and Laxman call Parthiv up these days too, offering words of encouragement.

You’ve got to give credit to Parthiv. He kept the fire burning and slogged it out. There is no success without sweat.

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