Auckland: Brendan Taylor gave one Indian fan an expensive parting gift on Saturday. Taylor was playing his last ODI for Zimbabwe before moving to Nottingham to play on the English county circuit as a Kolpak player which requires him to stop playing for his country in order to be treated as a local player in the league.
Arjun Bharadwaj poses with the cheque at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday. Pic/Ashwin Ferro
Taylor’s six against Mohammad Shami over mid-off in the 39th over sailed into the stands, where it was plucked out in one hand by 24-year-old Arjun Bharadwaj, a participant in the Tui Catch a Million contest. The contest, open to 18-year-olds and above, initiated by New Zealand’s DB Breweries, requires a spectator to purchase (for NZD 30: R1389) and wear a specific t-shirt at the game, and catch a six in the stands with one hand to be eligible for the bumper prize of One million NZ dollars.
Simon Smith of DB Breweries explained: “The original cash pool for the group stages is NZD 250,000 (R1,15,74,493 approx) which becomes NZD 300,000 (R1,38,89,392 approx) if NZ enter the quarter-finals, NZD 500,000 (R2,31,48,986 approx) if they make the semis, NZD 750,000 (R3,47,23,480 approx) if they enter the final and NZD one million (R4,62,97,973 approx) if NZ win the final. The final pool will be equally divided into all those who have caught the ball in the stands under the conditions specified in any of the 23 World Cup matches in NZ.”
Bespectacled Arjun Bharadwaj (encircled) celebrates taking a catch from a Brendan Taylor shot in Auckland. Courtesy: Star Sports
The contest was initiated in the 12 matches of the ANZ Series here last year when the cash award was a flat NZD 150,000 (R69,44,696 approx) per catch taken. The change in format for the World Cup is to focus on the Black Caps and its fans, said Smith.
Arjun became the sixth person so far in the tournament to catch the ball and will get anything between NZD 30,000 (R13,88,939 approx) to NZD 100,000 (R46,29,797 approx) depending upon how many more catches are taken in the remaining three matches of the World Cup in NZ and how far the hosts progress. Bharadwaj was over the moon on Saturday with his instant celebrity status as he posed for photographs with fans. “I come from a small village Boh near Ambala in Haryana and came to NZ seven years ago as an 18-year-old to make a future for myself. And today, I have made it,” he told sunday mid-day during the innings break at Eden Park.
Ironically, this is the first time Bharadwaj has stepped inside a cricket stadium and that too, he arrived late — a good four overs into the match.
'I believe in lotteries'
“I’ve never been to a cricket match before and don’t quite follow the Indian team’s progress either, but when I heard that the World Cup was going to be held here, I purchased this ticket in November for NZD 40 (R1,851 approx). “I believe in lotteries and often purchase lottery tickets to make some quick big money. Aaj lottery lag gayee (today I’ve won the lottery),” said Bharadwaj, who works as a sales assistant in a departmental store here. His father Phool Prakash is a government worker, while mother Darshana Devi is a home-maker in Ambala.
The youngster was grateful to his parents for sending him away from home. “My parents work very hard and send me money regularly. Now, I will tell them to stop sending me money,” he said.
Speaking of the catch, Bharadwaj said he was not sure if it was coming to him. “When Brendan lofted it, I saw it coming towards me, so instantly stood up, but then as it was falling, I thought someone ahead of me will catch it, but I stuck out my hand anyway and it got stuck in it,” he said with a broad smile.