Kapil Dev is very much a household name in the cricket-crazy country that we live in and the whole of Haryana swore by paaji ’s name ever since I was a kid. My father, brother and many others among my relatives were huge fans. And quite naturally, growing up in a family like this saw the fandom, almost as if genetically, pass on to me.


Mohit Sharma.

It is every Haryanvi’s dream to stand face-to-face with the Haryana Hurricane someday and maybe, if one could, worship him. And I secretly harboured the wish to meet him someday as well. That day did come, but much later in my life.

I was a part of the national team when South Africa toured India in October 2015 a few months after the World Cup. I forgot the venue, but all I know for sure is that the stars were perfectly aligned that day as Kapil Sir happened to be there at the ground as a commentator. Oblivious of this fact, I was at the nets, bowling at a single wicket when the man himself came down to inspect the pitch. I literally froze and that was when Kapil Dev looked at me, smiled and called me by my name. I had gone into a state of shock.

A thousand thoughts and emotions were jostling against each other inside my head: “How does he know my name?” and “What now?” and so on. On the other hand, Kapil Dev casually walked up to me and kept talking to me regarding my bowling action, techniques and how I could get to maintain the perfect line and bowl in the correct areas.

I do not exaggerate even a little, but I swear, I couldn’t speak for the next five minutes.

As told to Santadeep Dey.