'Burning desire' has kept Parthiv in shape for Test cricket

"I had the advantage of making my debut early but the motivation and the burning desire to play for India was very high. That’s how I kept myself fit – physically and mentally – to play Test cricket again," Gujarat's Parthiv Patel told Sportstar after being selected to represent India after eight years.

Parthiv Patel has had to leave a Ranji Trophy match midway for the first time in his career.   -  V. Ganesan

Just when Parthiv Patel was about to hit the bed in Hubli after leading Gujarat’s charge against domestic stalwart Mumbai halfway into the Ranji Trophy match, his phone rang. It turned out to be the call he had anxiously been waiting for.

“A couple of days ago, I had been sounded off about it and asked to be prepared mentally. Obviously you feel for Wriddhiman (Saha) but you can’t do anything about injuries. But when the call actually came last night, the immediate reaction was I was quite excited and happy to be part of the Test team again after eight years,” Patel told Sportstar from Belgaum airport.

>Read: Parthiv Patel gets Test call-up after eight years

In Indian cricket, a player making a comeback in Tests after eight years is a rare phenomenon. In fact, when a player spends such a long time after wearing the India whites, most often than not he gets into the “enjoying the game” mode while going through the rigours of domestic cricket. But Patel’s case has been an exception ever since he made his Test debut as a 17-year-old in 2002.

But the Gujarat captain, who has established himself as one of the leading wicketkeepers and a reliable batsman in domestic cricket, insisted it’s not just the advantage of the age being on his side that he has continued to strive for another Test cap.

“Basically, I had the advantage of making my debut early but the motivation and the burning desire to play for India was very high. That’s how I kept myself fit – physically and mentally – to play Test cricket again,” he said. “And when you play IPL, you get to face the best bowlers in the world. Scoring against them also gives you the belief that you do belong there; you are very much part of the scheme for playing for India again.”

'Live in the moment'

With Saha likely to resume duties for the fourth Test against England in Mumbai, does the factor of keeping in a one-off Test put more pressure on Patel? “I am just happy to be back in the side. I am not putting any kind of pressure on myself of getting just one chance. I am not worried about it at all. I am just trying to live in this moment and try and do well if and when I am given the responsibility to represent India again,” he said.

The unexpected call-up to the national side meant that Patel, for the first time in his long career, has left a Ranji Trophy game midway. He was desperate to finish the game off as the Gujarat captain, but logistically it wasn’t possible. After all, it would have taken him a two-and-a half-hour drive followed by a couple of flights to join the team in Chandigarh from Hubli, the venue of the Ranji game.

“I have never left a Ranji match midway. It’s happened a couple of times that I have joined Gujarat for a match but left before the start of the game after being selected in the national side. This is a first, but can’t help it,” Patel signed off.