Nostalgic coach ‘proud’ of Zaheer Khan

As the news of Zaheer becoming the bowling consultant of Indian team broke out, his own coach Vidyadhar Paradkar could not control his emotions. After all, he had never thought his ward, too, would someday take up coaching responsibilities.

A young Zaheer Khan (left) with his coach Vidyadhar Paradkar.   -  Special Arrangement

Main plane se darta hoon, Sir. Aap chalo na mere saath...”

The youngster, quite visibly nervous, completed the sentence at one breath. Even before the person at the other end could reply, the youngster again pleaded. “Sir, please chalo na mere saath...”

Just crossing his teens, the otherwise calm and quiet young cricketer was suddenly all nervous that evening. After some hard work, he was finally on his way to Indore as one of the probables of Mumbai Ranji Trophy side, but the young medium fast bowler was more worried about how he would focus on the game following a rather 'long and scary' plane journey.

Read: Shastri named India's head coach, Zaheer bowling consultant

His pleas were heard. The 'Sir' finally agreed to see him off at the Mumbai airport, to ensure that all was well.

In reality, all wasn't. The youngster - Zaheer Khan - had to wait for long at the airport as his flight got delayed due to technical snag. And after reaching Madhya Pradesh, he wasn't given a game either.

But in all those times, his 'Sir', Vidyadhar Paradkar, made it a point to be around him. That was some twenty five years back. And, Zaheer was just another rookie cricketer waiting for a big break.

Cut to July, 2017.

As the news of Zaheer becoming the bowling consultant of Indian team broke out, Paradkar could not control his emotions. After all, he had never thought his ward, too, would someday take up coaching responsibilities. “How should a coach react at this time? If I only say, I am happy, I would perhaps be lying. I am extremely happy and proud,” the veteran coach, Paradkar, tells Sportstar.

As he speaks about his ward memories kept flowing in. Be it the days when a rookie Zaheer would come to the National Cricket Club at the Cross Maidan or when he shifted base to Baroda - every moment is still afresh for Paradkar. “Mumbai didn't do justice to him. They didn't even try to hold him back,” he rues.

‘Challenge’

Considered mentors to Zaheer, Ajinkya Rahane and England cricketer Haseeb Hameed, Paradkar is known for discovering brighter talents. And, the coach says, that is one quality even Zaheer possesses. “He is the man with various ideas. When he bowled, the field placement would be just perfect. He would ensure that. Similarly, he knows who would be effective when,” Paradkar says, adding that this will help him succeed in the longer run. “His presence would definitely motivate the young pacers. To be honest, Indian pace cupboard looks empty and for Zaheer, it would be a challenge to deliver the goods with such limited resources,” the veteran coach adds.

But then, knowing him inside out, Paradkar is quite confident about Zaheer's success as the bowling consultant. “He started late. At 17, when most of the players peak their form, Zaheer just started his journey in Mumbai. But with zeal and determination, he made it count. That hunger would certainly replicate here too,” he adds.

In his illustrious career, Zaheer was plagued with injuries, and Paradkar feels that is one thing which the new bowling consultant must speak about, to his wards. “He should tell the players about the importance of being fit and how is it possible to perform at the peak despite avoiding injuries,” he says, taking a pause, before adding: “I'm sure, he will do a good job.”

When a shy youngster had visited him for the first time from Aurangabad, Paradkar was not too sure how he would be. But now, as his ward too dons the coaching hat, Paradkar is all nostalgic. The hard work and the sweat may be visible, but there is a lot that goes unnoticed.

Tons of emotions? Perhaps!

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