It was like any other net session for Team India cricketers, but young Praharsh Parikh will remember it for the rest of his life as the then U-17 Lancashire spinner dismissed the great MS Dhoni ahead of the much-anticipated India-Pakistan 2019 World Cup clash.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Parikh recalled how he got the better of Dhoni with an excellent top-spinner to which the former Indian skipper had gone about playing a cut shot off the backfoot. However, the delivery from Praharsh Parikh didn’t bounce as highly as Dhoni anticipated and skid through to hit the top of the off-stump.
Parikh, part of the Rajasthan Royals (RR) junior programme, was like any other U-17 cricketer who doubled up as a net bowler till then. But on that day in Manchester, he became the kid who dismissed Dhoni of all people at the sidelines of a World Cup, an incident he can proudly share with his future generations.
“It was amazing,” said Praharsh Parikh. “It was a memory of a lifetime. He was taking singles to my previous deliveries so I thought it might be useful bowling a flipper and hopefully beating him on the outside edge.”
“After I bowled him, I didn’t really know what to do, whether to celebrate or not. During net bowling, I have got various players out from different teams, but the wicket I will cherish for a lifetime is Dhoni’s.”
Parikh had previously also interacted with some of the Indian cricketers. He had met Dhoni before while part of a Royals’ training camp. But it wasn’t until the net session in Manchester did he get the chance to bowl to the legendary wicketkeeper-batsman.
When 19-year-old Praharsh Parikh dismissed the great MS Dhoni
“I was a net bowler in the 2019 World Cup, so I have fortunately met quite a lot of cricketers. But I think the moment that stood out for me was when I met MS Dhoni, and when I talked to Hardik Pandya in Hindi. Also, I met Ashwin in the Trafford Centre in 2014 when India played at Old Trafford. In 2018, during a Rajasthan Royals net bowling session, I had the opportunity to talk with Jos Butler and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.”
In his capacity as a net bowler, Praharsh Parikh got the chance to bowl to several players from different countries through the span of the 2019 World Cup in the UK. He also helped Indian batsmen at practice ahead of the semi-final against New Zealand. At the nets in Old Trafford, while Parikh couldn’t retain the wood over Dhoni, he managed to trouble some of the other prominent Indian names.
“I got [Hardik] Pandya, Vijay Shankar, [Rishabh] Pant out from the Indian team. This was the day before the semi-final of the 2019 WC in the nets at Old Trafford. Evin Lewis, Shai Hope, Nicholas Pooran, again during the 2019 WC. Hendricks, Van der Dussen when I bowled against South Africa.”
“Babar Azam and Imam-Ul-Haq from Pakistan. Jofra Archer, Adil Rashid, Liam Dawson from England. There wasn’t much interaction because the players were focused on getting ready for their games. I remember Babar Azam saying to Imam that he couldn’t understand my action, in Urdu, and he said well bowled to me on a couple of occasions.”
Born in Ahmedabad in a Gujarati family with sporting roots, Praharsh Parikh was only aged one when he came to the UK. Parikh has been regularly visiting India for family meetings and cricket. He recognises the Lancashire setup he is part of has a “rich history” in the game, with some of world cricket’s most famous names representing the club in the English domestic scene.
It was Parikh’s father who encouraged him to play cricket from a very young age. He says he has been enjoying the game ever since and looks up to various cricketers from around the world. Being a spinner, who is currently trained under the watchful eyes of former England tweaker Gary Yates, Praharsh Parikh says Ravichandran Ashwin is his “idol”.