Cricket's 1009-run boy can easily get sucked in by pressure of expectations just like Yash Gandhi, who eclipsed Sachin Tendulkar's Harris Shield record of 364 runs in 2006; Yash doesn’t even play cricket now
Pranav Dhanawade is the toast of the cricketing world. His Tuesday's feat of 1009 runs in an inter-school match in Kalyan will not die down easily. At Azad Maidan, far away from Kalyan where the run-riot was taking place in an U-16 HT Bhandari Trophy, a cricketer called Yash Gandhi had experienced a similar frenzy a decade ago.
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Pranav Dhanawade poses for photographers after his incredible innings of 1009 not out in a HT Bhandari Cup inter-school match for KC Gandhi against Arya Gurukul in Kalyan on Tuesday. Pic/Sameer Markande
Star of 2006
Gandhi, playing for Don Bosco (Matunga), eclipsed Sachin Tendulkar's 364-run Harris Shield record, smashing 365 against St Sebastian (Marine Lines) in the semi-final of the Plate Division in 2006. Gandhi was showered with numerous felicitations and scholarships after the record-breaking feat — something very similar to what Dhanawade is experiencing at the moment.
Where is Gandhi today? Certainly not near a cricket field. In fact, his cricket career is over. "It was an unusual experience. The attention was something that only international cricketers would get. It was surreal," Gandhi told mid-day as he recalled his claim to fame.
Yash Gandhi in 2006. Pic/mid-day archives
He scored a double hundred in a tournament in the Warwickshire league in England. He also bagged an IPL contract with Kings XI Punjab in 2009. Gandhi moved to Gujarat for better opportunities at the U-25 level in 2013, but was unable to break into the first-class league.
He pursued for some time before finally giving up on his dream. The 25-year-old is now immersed in his e-commerce business. "I had to be practical. I was not getting the kind of push that was required. I tried to penetrate the first-class set up. Since I was good in academics, I had to make a choice about my career. I have recently got an investor for my venture and that takes up a lot of my time," Gandhi said. Gandhi said the attention he garnered was too hot to handle for him at that point of time.
"I was just 15 when I scored those runs and the expectations from me were sky high. Every time I went into bat thereafter, people would just expect a double or a triple hundred. Whenever I returned from my matches, people would only ask me about my score. No one paid much attention to a half-century or a hundred. Everyone just expected me to keep scoring big. So, it started putting intense pressure on me," said Gandhi.
G'bye Mumbai cricket
One of the reasons for shifting to Gujarat was to avoid the attention he was receiving in Mumbai. "In a way, it was good to move because I could start from scratch. There were not too many expectations from me. I did well there and was also in the one-day team's probables," said Gandhi.
What Dhanawade could learn from Gandhi's experience is about handling expectations. "How he (Dhanawade) handles this pressure is going to be crucial. He should use the attention he has got to his advantage. If he keeps doing well, every performance will be highlighted in a big way.
"There are very few school cricketers in India who get so much exposure and attention. He should not get distracted," Gandhi said before dishing out a simple piece of advice: "Don't lose your way now. Use every innings as an opportunity to improve your skills."