Pravin Tambe would connect well with this popular Bollywood track “Dene wala jabhi deta, deta chappad faad ke”. Until last year, the 42-year-old leg-spinner was one of the many cricketers toiling hard for decades on Mumbai’s maidans, but to no avail. With age not on his side, Tambe’s cricketing journey was starting to look like an endless road.
But this year has been remarkable. Tambe was first named in the Mumbai squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, but he did not get a chance to debut. A few weeks later, he was back to where he started — on Mumbai’s maidans.
Then came his selection for Rajasthan Royals (RR) in the sixth edition of the Indian Premier League. In May, he played three IPL matches for RR without much success. However four months later, Tambe caught the nation’s eye with some superlative performances in the Champions League T20.
Tambe emerged as the highest wicket-taker of the tournament, claiming 12 in five matches, at an amazing economy rate of 4.10. His performance saw him bag CLT20’s Golden Wicket award. Three months later the hardworking cricketer’s fortunes have changed again.
Yesterday, Tambe was drafted into the Mumbai squad for their Ranji Trophy encounter against Jharkhand, beginning on December 6 at the Wankhede Stadium. Tambe replaced left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla.
“This is the best day of my life. I have never experienced such a thrill before. Playing for Mumbai is an achievement in itself. It is almost like playing for India. I am really thankful to the selectors for having faith in me,” Tambe told MiD DAY.
The father of two said his feelings were indescribable. “Abey (Kuruvilla) sir called to congratulate me. First, I thought it must be for the five wickets that I grabbed on Sunday (for Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in the Dr HD Kanga Cricket League).
“But when I asked him why he was congratulating me, he informed me that I had just got selected for Mumbai. I was speechless. I still don’t know how to describe the feeling,” said Tambe, whose mobile phone has refused to stop buzzing.
Tambe has always maintained that selection was never on his mind, but admitted harbouring hopes of a first-class break this time. “I never go on the field thinking of selection. I just go there and enjoy my cricket. It doesn’t matter where I am playing.
“But I have been performing well in local tournaments lately. I have taken a six-wicket haul thrice besides Sunday’s fifer in the Kanga League ‘A’ Division. I’m having a good season and the team management asked me to bowl to Mumbai players in one of the practice sessions. So I had some hope this time,” said Tambe.
Asked if there were any more expectations, Tambe replied: “I had never expected to go this far. I never thought the Rajasthan Royals contract would happen. I have simply enjoyed my cricket. I want to continue doing that without thinking much.”