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It was not like we were poor all the time in the beginning. We would go through patches where we had some money and patches of hard times. Our expectations were quite low, which helped with keeping expenses down. But we had not counted on our father getting sick.


That changed many things. I still remember that day very clearly. I had a game in the morning and my father had come to watch. He was experiencing some pains but, my father being my father, he thought he was the doctor. ‘Don’t worry, it’s just gas, I ate something bad,’ he said.


When he would watch me play, he would always sit in the same place. But when I looked up on this particular day, he wasn’t there. He had gone. When I came inside after the match was over, the coach took me aside and said, ‘Your father has had a heart attack. He is in hospital.’


I was a boy and didn’t really understand how bad a heart attack could be. What the doctors later told me was that Dad had suffered a heart attack at the ground, and then another one. Instead of telling anyone about his pain, he got in his car and drove home.


He was basically unconscious by the time he got there. The doctors said if he’d left it much later, he would not have made it. I still have no idea how he managed to drive a car in the middle of a heart attack, barely conscious.


He was in ICU for eight or nine days. It’s like something out of a movie. Dad had been the breadwinner for the household, so our earning capacity as a family was always going to take a hit.


He was basically unconscious by the time he got there. The doctors said if he’d left it much later, he would not have made it. 


More bad news followed. Krunal and I were dropped from our state teams shortly after our father became ill. I was told I was dropped because I had an attitude problem. What kind of attitude is a 16-year-old supposed to have?


Our state contracts didn’t bring in a lot of money – mine was R3000 – but every little bit helped given the situation our family was in. Now they were gone, too. Krunal and I played for local village teams for something like R300 or R400 per game to make a little money.


Krunal was like my personal scout. He would tell the teams, ‘My brother hits the ball well, you should pick him.’ We would play for whoever called us. There was always pressure to play well so you would be asked back.


We were doing this until the year before we received our first IPL contracts.



Krunal and I were practical kids. We knew we didn’t have money so we avoided situations where we would be tempted to spend. We didn’t go out much.


There were a few times early on when we would be somewhere with friends, it came time to contribute to the bill and we didn’t have enough to pay our share. Lesson learned. We didn’t put ourselves in that position again.


We stopped celebrating Diwali as a family. People spend a lot of money during Diwali, buying new clothes and such, and we weren’t able to do that. It was only when we received our first IPL contracts three years ago that we started doing Diwali again.



We bought a lot of things on credit. There was a store where we used to take credit and if we didn’t pay on time we would avoid going near there. We also didn’t have money for cricket equipment, so we asked our state association if they would give it to us.


And then there was the car. Before the heart attacks, when he was still earning, my father bought a simple sedan. It helped Krunal and I get to and from training and games because our kits were too big to fit both on a bike.


We didn’t want to lose the car because Dad was ill. We thought that was disrespectful. But maintaining it became the biggest trouble in our lives! We never had enough money for a full tank of petrol, so we would put in $2 or $3 whenever we had it.


Worse than that, though, was the bank. We couldn’t pay the EMI, the loan money, for two years and they would try to take it away from us.


We were lucky that we knew someone at the bank. They helped us. They would sometimes tell us ahead of time when someone was coming around to take the car away, so Krunal and I would drive it to our uncle’s house and hide it.


Other times, when someone from the bank would come to our house, my father would say, ‘I am a heart attack patient! You can’t take the car from me! I will file a case against you!’


They would go away. My father was very smart!





I learned a lot through these difficult years, lessons that I still carry with me today.


I knew I couldn’t have a normal life. I wanted something different to everyone else. So I became very focused about what it was I wanted to achieve and didn’t let ‘what ifs’ creep into my thinking. And no matter how difficult things became, we didn’t complain. We had faith things would get better.


When life was supposed to change, according to God, it would change. As it turned out, everything changed within the space of three months. We won the T20 championship with Baroda and we received a lakh, which is like $US1500. I thought, ‘That’s good, maybe I can give some money to the car guy so they can feel like we are giving something.’


Twenty days later came the IPL auction. I was picked up by Mumbai Indians. I thought, ‘Wow! Now I can pay the car guys more and maybe this year can be a good year.’ We ended up winning the IPL that year and received 60 lakh.


It was a life-changer. Nothing has been the same since.


I live a very nice life now and so does my family. Krunal decided a while ago that we should give my father a car, so we did that. He now has more cars in Baroda than I do! He has new clothes and shoes. He is living life properly, shall we say! Mum, too. That makes me happy.


When life was supposed to change, according to God, it would change. As it turned out, everything changed within the space of three months. 


Krunal and I would be nowhere without the sacrifices our parents made for us. There are not many people in this world who would support their children to the level our parents did with us. 


Everything we have is because of them. That’s why I tell my father, ‘Do what you want to do. We will never stop you.’ He seems to have taken the advice!


There have been challenges this year for me in the form of injury. It has been a difficult time, but perhaps also a blessing in disguise. Rehabbing away from the team is never enjoyable, although the time to train and get fit will help me in the longer term.


And now I am headed to Melbourne to join the Indian Test squad ahead of the Boxing Day Test. 


The dream continues.


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