UAE cricketer Swapnil Patil, who hails from a village near Vasai, can't wait to take on India on Saturday
Perth: Swapnil Patil, just like Ajinkya Rahane, undertook many a long ride in Mumbai's overcrowded local trains as they represented Mulund Gymkhana some years ago, and even played age-group cricket from U-14 to U-22 for Mumbai together. While Rahane would travel from the eastern suburbs (Dombivali), Patil would head out from the western suburbs (Vasai). And while Rahane rose, Patil's career set in the west.
UAE's wicketkeeper-batsman Swapnil Patil during a training session at the Gabba on Tuesday. Pic/AFP
Patil was among the Mumbai Ranji probables, not once but twice — 2000-2001 and 2004-2005. Sadly, he wasn't picked, and thereafter could not stay afloat for long in the sea of Mumbai's so-called cricketing talent. Thankfully, the dessert came calling. He moved to the United Arab Emirates to play cricket for a corporate outfit, excelled and is now rubbing shoulders with the world's best cricketers (Rahane included) at the World Cup.
In an interview with mid-day, UAE's wicketkeeper-batsman Patil, a resident of Vasai's Darpale village, says he is looking forward to his weekend 'outing' with mate Rahane as UAE take on India at the WACA on Saturday.
What is the mood in the UAE camp ahead of the India match?
We are taking things one match at a time, and going by who the opponent is, the team management plans our strategy before every match. The Ireland match (on Wednesday, Feb 25 at Brisbane) was a tough one (UAE lost by two wickets). Next up is India on Saturday, so definitely we will have some plans for the Indian team.
As one of the team's prominent batsman, how do you look at the India game?
We have a very good batting line up, and Shaiman Anwar proved that we can score big knocks with his fine century against Ireland the other day. We also have batsmen like Khurram Khan, Amjad Ali, Andri Berenger, Krishna Karate besides myself, who can score good runs. As far as my batting is concerned, my main focus will be to bat till the last ball of the match. I realise that my job is to build partnerships, mainly to concentrate on the singles and doubles and wait for the loose deliveries to get them away to the boundary. I'm keen to score some runs against India.
The Perth track is known to be bouncy. Are your bowlers ready to run in hard?
Amjad Javed, Muhammad Naveed, Manjula Guruge and Kamran Shahzad comprise our four-pronged pace attack. I am sure they will be aware of the conditions in Perth and exploit them.
Personally, how big is India game for you considering you're Indian and more importantly, from Mumbai which has a huge history?
India are in fine form considering their first two World Cup matches where they beat Pakistan (by 76 runs) and South Africa (by 130 runs). I am an Indian and personally, this will be a very emotional moment for me to play against my own country. This is the biggest match of my life, and I'm ready for it. I'm also looking forward to meeting up with Ajinkya on Saturday. That should be fun. But having said that, each and every match of this World Cup is equally important for me.
How did the move to UAE take place?
I played several big tournaments in Mumbai (see box) and had many outstanding performances. I recorded 10 centuries and 12 half centuries, during that period. On the basis of my record, I was selected among Mumbai's Ranji probables twice, but unfortunately, despite my excellent performances, I could not get my hands on that Mumbai Ranji cap. I was very disappointed. Then, one day (in 2006), former Goa Ranji player Ambey Parwatkar recommended me to the owner of Yogi Group, Shiva Pagrani sir. Parwatkar, was a senior player in Pagrani sir's Yogi Group cricket team in Dubai. They were on the look out for a wicketkeeper-batsman and were impressed by my scores in Mumbai cricket and made me an offer to join them in the UAE. But I was not sure as nothing of this sort was ever thought of. So, I consulted some experienced people from Mumbai's cricketing fraternity and they felt that I should try my hand in UAE. They were convinced that given my hardwork and talent, I would succeed there.
What was your family's reaction when you told them you would be going to play cricket in UAE?
My family was very much a part of my decision-making process when the UAE offer came by. I also felt that I should grab the opportunity as I would be able to support my family better financially. My father Prakash Patil, who has also played a lot of cricket in Mumbai and is a senior Mumbai Cricket Association coach, also gave me
his blessings to move to UAE.
What is your family's reaction now that they know that you're going to play against India? Will they support you or the country?
My family always felt that I could have been selected to represent India. But they are equally proud that I am representing UAE. My family was supporting India in their previous two matches against Pakistan and South Africa, but come Saturday, I'm sure they will support me and my team in the match against India.
> Selected for U-14 Elf Vengsarkar Academy in 1998
> Selected to represent Mumbai U-14 in Bal Mahaddalkar Trophy at Rajkot in 1998
> Represented Vasai in the Late Kalpesh Koli Trophy U-16 and Borde XI in Shatkar Trophy 1998-99 & 1999-2000.
> Represented United Cricketers in Dr HD Kanga Cricket League 'B' Division from 1999 to 2006
> Selected in Mumbai U-19 probables
> Selected in Mumbai Ranji probables
> Selected to represent MCA U-19 in Cooch-Behar Trophy in 2002-2003 and 2003-2004
> Best wicketkeeper in the Late Shalini Bhalekar Memorial tournament between Mumbai teams in 2004-2005
> Selected to represent MCA U-22 in the Col CK Nayudu West Zone in 2004-2005
> Selected to represent MCA Mumbai Colts for the Moin-Ud Dowla tournament in Hyderabad in 2005
> Selected to represent Mumbai U-22 in 2005