‘Tough call’ of retirement now a reality for Dishant Yagnik

The Rajasthan stalwart bids adieu to first-class cricket after a 13-year career.

Dishant Yagnik (centre) with his Rajasthan team-mates at the Sawai Man Singh stadium in Jaipur on Tuesday.   -  Special Arrangement

“So, you are a family man from tomorrow. Waking up early, taking your seven year-old daughter to school and doing the daily chores…”

Even before the speaker could complete the sentence, all he could sense was pin drop silence. The person on the other end could barely talk. But after a few seconds, Dishant Yagnik tried restoring normalcy in his old, usual style. “Kya yaar!” (what man!) he said, trying to laugh.

It was not easy for him to accept that on Tuesday afternoon, he played his last Ranji Trophy game for Rajasthan. It was equally tough to let it sink that from Wednesday, he will be called a ‘former cricketer’.

‘Tough’

“To be honest, it was a tough call (to walk into retirement), but I had to stop somewhere,” an emotional Yagnik told Sportstar from Jaipur on Tuesday evening, a few minutes after walking back to the dressing room.

The wicket-keeper batsman from the desert state had made up his mind to quit in the middle of the tournament. But with Rajasthan skipper Pankaj Singh and state selectors requesting him to carry on till the end of the season (Sportstar was the first to report about that development), Yagnik agreed to continue.

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“It was so difficult to motivate myself. At this age, you can’t dream of playing for India, neither can you bag an IPL contract,” Yagnik explained.

But until a couple of years ago, Yagnik was a regular member of the Rajasthan Royals and has had quite a few memorable outings with the franchise. “It has been an honour playing for Rajasthan Royals, under Rahul (Dravid) bhai. Those memories are special,” he said. And after hearing about his former team-mates’ decision, Dravid had texted Yagnik, wishing him luck. “Dear Dishant, congrats on your fine career. Was a pleasure to play with you and to know you and your lovely family. Best wishes to you in your future endeavours,” Dravid texted.

These are the fond memories that Yagnik wants to take back home. “So many memories keep flowing in,” he said.

Last-ball six

A regular member of the Rajasthan team for 13 long years, Yagnik still remembers that moment when he guided Central Zone to a last-ball win against East Zone in a Duleep Trophy match. And interestingly, the bowler was Sourav Ganguly. “We required five runs in the last ball, and Dada was bowling. Anyone would have crumbled under pressure, but I don’t know how I hit him for a six,” he said with a smile.

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Those days were all about living his dream. But now at 34, Yagnik wants to take up a coaching job. “I want to start as a wicket-keeping and fielding coach. My immediate target is to help Rajasthan U-19 team. I have requested the officials, let’s see what happens,” he said.

After their last Ranji Trophy league match against Saurashtra at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Tuesday, the Rajasthan cricketers arranged an impromptu party for Yagnik. As skipper Pankaj handed him a memento to his good old colleague, Yagnik could not hold back his tears.

Thirteen years have just gone by, and Yagnik suddenly realised his caravan had stopped, and that it was time to hang up the gloves.