It will be a bitter reunion for two players taking part in the India vs UAE clash at the WACA, Perth on Saturday. India’s Ajinkya Rahane and UAE’s Swapnil Patil are no strangers as they grew up sharing dressing rooms, cricket gear and a common dream. They were part of the Mumbai Under-14, 16, 19 and 22 middle order before Patil lost his way while Rahane went on to become an Indian cricketer. Not only Rahane, Patil also played alongside Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni, but Rahane was like more like a brother to him.

As juniors we have spent much time together. Because of distances in Mumbai, we couldn’t hang out together after games but Ajinkya is like a brother. Once I moved out of India, we lost contact. But that day at the Dubai airport, he was returning from India’s A tour to South Africa, it was like old times again. I haven’t got in touch with Ajinkya yet since landing here but will meet him there and if possible take him out for dinner. Actually, not just him, I also have also been in Mumbai sides that had Rohit Sharma and Dhawal Kulkarni, says Patil, who is eagerly waiting to land at the Perth airport.

He is also refers that players from big teams are very busy before match days, when he was talking about his plans of taking his former teammates for meal. However, it’s not the meal at the food court but the meeting on WACA central square that the 28-year-old is more confident about. It was in 2006, when Patil got an international call from a corporate team that wanted him to be their wicket-keeper batsman and also offered him the job of store-in-charge. Then, he wasn’t sure if cricket would give him ‘mazaa (fun)’.

Things weren’t moving in my cricketing career, so when my father asked if I was keen to go, I said why not, recalls Patil, who still visits the Mumbai maidans when he is on vacation to catch up with his coach, Vilas Godbole of United CC, to sort out the flaws in his batting. The last time I had nets with Godbole sir was when I wanted to fix my cover drive. They all will be watching me during the World Cup, I think I have done them proud, said Patil.

In his home town of Vasai, Maharashtra, Patil’s family members and friends will be gathering together to watch the game between UAE and India, where his team will face his country by birth.


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