Once renowned Bengal Ranji player, A top honchos of Kolkata Knight Riders team and Sourav Ganguly’s perhaps the closest buddy.
Rendezvous with Maharaj...
As I boarded the flight to Nagpur, my mind wandered back to 1995, precisely a year before a star was born in Indian cricket. Sourav and I were playing in the Midllesex Premier League, and he scored runs aplenty. Now since this league was a feeder to Middlesex County Team and many other neighbouring counties, I wondered when this boy will show the world what he is capable of. Many of these matches were against teams with county bowlers and he treated them with utter disdain.
Cut to 1996, I am again in the U.K. fulfilling another year's contract with the same club, but thank The Lord, Sourav is part of the visiting Indian team. With stars lurking all around, there was not much head way for the newcomers Ganguly and Dravid. The one-dayers went, the side games went and so did the 1st Test. We got hammered in the 1st test, Sidhu had some difference of opinion with Azhar, Sanjay Manjrekar had a dodgy toe and Sourav walked in to bat that Friday afternoon at Lords. Tensed moments to say the least. Not out overnight meant both of us did not sleep well. Next morning I think I arrived at the ground before the Stewart's did. I did not want to miss a moment. I saw history being made, justice being done and thanked God. I say this, simply because I have played this game, and then realized -the immense talent that The Almighty had bestowed upon him, and I desperately wanted the whole world to see it too.
I have known Sourav since God knows when. I am often asked but I cannot put a date on it. Our families were friends, and we were mates even before either of us picked up a bat. So obviously Nagpur was going to be emotional. In fact, we had often spoken that since I was there in his 1st test, I would be there in his last test too. True to his nature, he saved me a lot of money, and bid adieu in Nagpur and not in Napier or Nottingham. We all stayed together as we have done innumerable times in the past. What amazed me was how calm and composed he was, in spite of having loads of visitors in the room and the obvious distractions that go hand in hand with an immortal in his last days in office. We chatted till late and at the end of the 5th day, he said..... no more morning alarms, no more lobby at 8, no more flights to catch. He had moved on, while we were caught in time, caught by time.
It’s been a great journey and even to be a part of it has been worth living my life. It’s been a privilege being close to him and it would have been the same even if he never picked up a cricket bat ever in his life. But then thank the Lord, he did.