Soon after Ruturaj Gaikwad blitzed his way to 99, another local lad - Mukesh Choudhary - was in the limelight for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL contest against Sunrisers Hyderabad here on Sunday night.

When Choudhary (4 for 46) dismissed Abhishek Sharma and Rahul Tripathi off successive deliveries, a couple that was sitting in the gallery along with Gaikwad’s parents was anxious.

That Mukesh was on the verge of earning a hat-trick in the IPL didn’t really matter to them. Gopal and Prembai Choudhary, who had travelled from Darwha, a small town almost an hour’s drive from Yavatmal, district headquarters of Maharashtra’s Vidarbha region, were thrilled to be watching their son playing well in front of a capacity crowd.

“It was an amazing feeling to watch him play live and do so well, in fact I don’t know how to describe the happiness in words,” Gopal told Sportstar , having taken a flight to Nagpur the next morning and travelled almost 200 km by road to Darwha.

ALSO READ - Dhoni on CSK future: ‘You will definitely see me in the yellow jersey’

Having had a stint as a net bowler for Sunrisers Hyderabad earlier, Mukesh was called up as the Chennai Super Kings’ net bowler for the IPL’s UAE leg in 2021. Having impressed M. S. Dhoni during his stint, CSK bought him at the base price during the player auction.

And the purchase paid rich dividends. The wily left-arm pacer has picked up 11 wickets in eight games so far.

While Gopal, who runs a stone-crushing business in the town that’s been his home for almost four decades, had to return to work, Prembai will be back in the stands to cheer for her son against Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday.

“We had only watched him live on the internet earlier. Before the Mushtaq Ali T20s in Lucknow (in 2021), he called and asked us to subscribe to Hotstar to be able to watch him play. But this experience was something else,” added Gopal.