Kanishkaa Balachandran recalls the vicissitudes in the keeper-batsman’s career
On Tuesday, Parthiv Patel was playing a Ranji Trophy match for Gujarat in Hubli when he got a call from the national selectors to join the Indian team for the third Test in Mohali against England. The wicketkeeper-batsman was a late inclusion after the regular keeper, Wriddhiman Saha, had to pull out due to a thigh injury. Parthiv looks certain to play the Test. If he does, it will be his first in eight years.
Parthiv’s last Test was in 2008 in Sri Lanka, as a replacement for MS Dhoni, who sat out the tour. He was dropped and made a comeback to the one-day side in 2010. He featured regularly in 2011 and scored four fifties, including a career-best 95. However, his form fell away after the England tour in 2011 and he was dropped again. Either side of his comeback, he scored plenty for Gujarat, captaining the side and establishing himself as the senior pro. But with Dhoni proving indispensible, a recall to the Indian team was always going to be tough.
With other keepers like Saha, Naman Ojha and Dinesh Karthik competing for the same spot, had he given up hope?
“I had self-belief, which has defined my career and brought me to where I have reached. I believe a lot in hard work, and at different points of time it has paid off, so there was no way I was going to quit,” he told ESPNcricinfo.
“This [selection] is another example of that: if you work hard, at some point of time, out of nowhere, something comes up.”
This season’s Ranji stats look good for Parthiv – he has three fifties and a hundred in eight innings. Karthik too has been scoring plenty. But it was Parthiv’s wicketkeeping that impressed the selectors enough to pick him over Karthik.
“Obviously the selectors have noticed,” he says. “I have been told by the selectors that I have been keeping well. It feels great that I have been rewarded for what I have been doing in domestic cricket for the past few years.”
Parthiv’s first selection for India, back in 2002, was a surprise to everyone. He was just 17 and hadn’t played a single Ranji Trophy match. He had captained India in the Under-19 World Cup, and after a few good showings with the A side, he was considered good enough to fly to England with the Test team. He played in Nottingham and saved the match for India with his batting in the second innings.
He remained with the Indian side for the next year and a half but in that period, his form as a wicketkeeper dipped. Since then, he has been in and out of the side. Once Dhoni emerged, opportunities were hard to come by.
Parthiv may only get to play one Test in this series, should Saha return for the fourth game. He insists he just wants to enjoy this game.
“At this point, I am very happy to be back and whatever has happened [in the past], is gone.”
(The featured image at the top is that of Parthiv Patel.Photo: Rediff.com)
(Kanishkaa Balachandran is a Chennai-based freelance writer on cricket, films, music and travel)