Taking different paths towards realising their dreams

Taking different paths towards realising their dreams

Taking different paths towards realising their dreams
The stream of people visiting the casino situated in the United Arab Emirates’ team hotel was left a curious lot as a fair number of Indian journalists, including a couple from the television news channels, queued up to interview two unassuming young men outside the lobby.

A parent told his inquisitive son they might be Indian cricketers. He was both right and wrong. Krishna Chandran Karate and Swapnil Patil are still very much Indian citizens but by virtue of being constant residents of the UAE for four years, they have become eligible to represent that country’s cricket team in the ongoing World Cup. While their dream of representing India didn’t materialise due to a combination of factors, their pursuit for livelihood has landed them the opportunity to play on the biggest stage cricket can offer.

“It’s not a strange feeling,” says Krishna Chandran when asked if he feels so playing against his own country. “I'm really excited. India is the defending champion and one of the best teams in the world. They have a lot of fans. It'll be a huge experience for us to play in front of a huge crowd. We definitely want to give them a good fight,” he says.

It’s a situation not just peculiar to Indians. There are players from Pakistan and Sri Lanka that are part of the UAE team. “All those playing for the UAE have a similar background,” he points out. “They have all tried playing back in their home country and it didn't work out. They had to take care of their family and make a livelihood. They came over to the UAE and continued playing. We may be Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans but now the UAE has given us an opportunity to play, to make our dream come true. We play as a team.”
Krishna Chandran, who made his debut for Kerala in the Vijay Hazare Trophy against Tamil Nadu, represented the Bangalore University for three years while he studied B Com at the Bhagawan Mahaveer Jain College. Robin Uthappa and Stuart Binny were his mates at the college.

“Bangalore was a lucky place for me,” he says. “I happened to meet Robin, Stuart and Gaurav Dhiman. We were in the same college. It was a wonderful moment for me. It was a great experience playing with these guys. I've played for Bangalore Occasionals (two years) and Herons (one year) in the KSCA league. S Sreesanth was my Kerala team-mate at the under-19 level.”

While he would have loved to pursue cricket with the Kerala state team, pressure to get a job drove him to Gulf. “It was great playing for Kerala but unfortunately I wasn't consistently getting opportunities,” he rues. “It was a bad time for me, I couldn't find a job. I was with the SBT as a guest player for a couple of years. I tried at Railways and the Indian Bank in Chennai. There were no vacancies anywhere. There was too much of frustration, pressure from the family,” he tells you.

Patil’s situation wasn’t too dissimilar. He was among the Ranji probables for three years but never got an opportunity. “I was part of Mumbai’s U-16, U-19, U-22 teams and I was in the Ranji probables as well for three years. But when I didn’t get a chance, I decided to go out and play cricket. In 2006, I went to the UAE to work. I was employed as a sales executive and a cricketer. Ours is a construction company, called Emirates Contracting Co. I went there to play cricket. I got a job along with that,” recalls Patil who played alongside Ajinkya Rahane for Mulund Gymkhana.

Like Krishna Chandran’s village – Kollengode – Patil’s place Vasai too is excited about his World Cup participation. On the big day, when India take on UAE here on Saturday, both will hope their favourite sons will do well but will be rooting for MS Dhoni and Co’s victory.
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