On the fourth anniversary of India's 2011 World Cup triumph, cricket equipment specialist Aslam Chaudhary hopes his unique piece of work, which has autographs of most members of MS Dhoni's champion team, doesn't stay in his attic
It deserves to occupy pride of place at the Wankhede Stadium as a reminder of that heady night exactly four years ago when India lifted the World Cup for the second time in front of delirious fans after 28 years.
Aslam Chaudhary with the six-feet bat at his establishment in Dhobi Talao yesterday. Pic/Suresh KK
Instead, this six-feet long, 20-kg bat that has signatures of most Indian players including the legendary Sachin Tendulkar, now lies in the attic of M Ashraf Brothers' shop — a grim reminder of the indifference we can sometimes have towards sporting memorabilia.
Gift to the Wankhede
Aslam Chaudhary, the owner of M Ashraf Brothers, Mumbai's oldest bat manufacturer, offered to gift this long piece of willow to the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to be installed at the Wankhede Stadium in memory of India's sole home World Cup cricket triumph. But the MCA did not want Ashraf's gift.
Four years since the historic victory, he is still hoping the bat would be housed at the Wankhede Stadium. "This was the first time Mumbai hosted the final. It was all the more special when India entered the final and won the World Cup," he told mid-day yesterday.
Chaudhary's specially-crafted willow was first placed outside the Wankhede dressing room for the players to sign, but after the final, it was back at his Dhobi Talao
"I wanted to gift this masterpiece to Sachin Tendulkar because it was his last World Cup, but I knew it would be difficult for him to preserve it at home. Then, I expressed my desire to keep it at Wankhede Stadium so that the fans could cherish the historic final. Unfortunately, it didn't happen," he said.
While Virender Sehwag, Tendulkar, Virat Kohli, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Suresh Raina signed the bat, signatures of Yuvraj Singh, R Ashwin, S Sreesanth and Gautam Gambhir have yet to be inscribed.
From the Sri Lankan team, only Kumar Sangakkara and Lasith Malinga obliged with their autograph. "I came to know that the Sri Lankan team was not aware of the bat kept outside the dressing room," said Chaudhary.
However, with the Indian Premier League starting on April 8, Chaudhary is confident of getting the remaining signatures.
Passion and emotions
Although he began working on the bat three weeks before the April 2, 2011 final, he decided to make such a bat as soon as he heard in 2009 that Mumbai would host the final. "Before working on it, I searched the Internet to find out whether anyone had made such a bat before and I discovered my plan was unique," he said. During the conversation, Chaudhary often referred to the bat as a 'masterpiece'.
"I have made it with a lot of passion. I cannot make another like this. I found it difficult to find wood which is this long, so I had to join several pieces of wood to make it," he said.
Chaudhary stressed that this bat is not for sale. "I have got many offers for this masterpiece. One person was willing to pay R5 lakh for it, but I refused. I will never sell this. It was prepared with a lot of emotions and passion. It will be only donated. According to me, Wankhede Stadium is the right place for this bat. I don't want any money for this," he signed off.
> Chasing 275 for a historic win, India held their nerve as they rode on Gautam Gambhir's 97 and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's unbeaten 91 to overhaul the target with six wickets and 10 balls to spare.
> With five runs required off 12 balls, Man of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh pushed for a single towards point before Dhoni sent the ball flying over long-on for a six to seal the match.
> The highlight of SL innings was Mahela Jayawardene's 103. SL posted 274 for six after winning the toss.
> Captain Kumar Sangakkara (48), T Dilshan (33) and Nuwan Kulasekara (32) were the other notable performers.
> India began on a disastrous note, losing Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early.
> Gambhir and Virat Kohli put on 83 runs for the third wicket.
> Gambhir then joined hands with Dhoni to stitch together a 109-run stand for the fourth wicket before the former was scalped by Thisara Perera.