The entire dressing room rose up in elation and instantly ran towards the ground. For it was a glorious moment in Gujarat Cricket history and one that doesn’t come along that easily when the opponents are the mighty Mumbai.
You know the moment and you know the sanctity of it.
Standing tall in the group was a little man, all smiles. Embracing everyone for as long as you can remember. No extra jubilation, no extra pomposity but living every single moment that comes with it. Parthiv Patel was the resurgence man who had just pushed Gujarat to their first-ever Ranji Trophy title. Can this ever get any bigger?
There are many ways we can remember the legacy of Parthiv Patel. Be it standing up to Shoaib Akhtar and co, as a teenager and being defiant against the Aussies and Proteas in the A-tour as a 16-year-old, but for me, it was his enduring legacy of leading Gujarat with fire and brimstone that strikes a chord.
It all started in 2014 when Parthiv and his band of boys led Gujarat to the Syed Mushtaq Ali title against Punjab, creating ripples as Baroda and Maharashtra did in the previous editions. Parthiv was not only at the centre of inspiring the side as a leader but also the batting fulcrum.
Patel’s contribution to Gujarat team was his legacy
Many followers of Indian domestic cricket dismissed the title as a one-off and flash in the pan but the subsequent season shut all the mouth. And it was Parthiv once again who delivered the goods with a finely-crafted 105 in the final against Delhi.
With Navdeep Saini and Ishant Sharma breathing fire with the ball, Patel was the sole differentiator, who alongside Rajul Bhatt, made Delhi toil for their first 50-over title.
“I got a lot of help from selectors and (the) GCA. Once I got the players, I used to challenge them in practice sessions to work hard. We weren’t a supremely talented side, so we had to make up for it with hard work. I used to challenge them, if you play 100 balls, I will play 101. If you take 50 catches, I will take 51. That way, they were also improving, I was also improving. That was the kind of culture we had put in,” Patel revealed while calling it curtains to his ODI career.
“And the results are showing. As a captain, I can be very proud that Axar Patel, Jasprit Bumrah have gone on to play for India. Bumrah is the No. 1 bowler in the world. There’s Priyank Panchal, Manprit Juneja – so there are good players. People are now talking about Gujarat players, which wasn’t the case in the past.”
It was this incredible incidence that Parthiv was proud of. In the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy, not only he challenged his side to raise their hand and put up a domineering display against a dominant side like Mumbai. Parthiv scored 90 and 143 in both the innings to bury Mumbai in their own grave and showed why he is so respected as a leader and captain.
“To me, to come to play for Gujarat after having played for India was very different. I thought earlier our purpose to play was to try and get a first-innings lead in the first couple of years so that we get those two points and then think about winning the game. Once we started doing that regularly, we started thinking of outright wins. Once that started, the thinking and mindset changed. We started getting the belief that we could win tournaments.”
Now that Parthiv is retired, Guajrat will possibly not have that cushion all the time but they can surely take inspiration from the fact that Parthiv’s philosophy will be a guiding force. And knowing Patel, it was sure he would just be a call away when his home team would come calling. Let that be the legacy of Parthiv Ajay Patel – the little man who grew up to become a behemoth.