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T20 World Cup 2024: Netravalkar goes on nostlagic trip

The US pacer is stealing the limelight .
Last Updated : 13 June 2024, 16:59 IST

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New York: You might not have heard of Payyade Sports Club in Kandivali, Mumbai. It’s not particularly famous, but it’s where Rohit Sharma learnt his craft as a kid. 

At that same club, around the same time, two others were learning the ropes, Rohit’s juniors. They went by Saurabh Netravalkar and Harmeet Singh. 

On Wednesday, the three of them met at the Nassau County International stadium in Long Island. They chatted for a couple of minutes before heading their separate ways. 

These days Rohit is the Indian skipper. Netravalkar and Harmeet play for the United States of America. But, the trio would reunite to create a moment not much later. 

Netravalkar’s angled seam took the toe end of Rohit’s bat and the ball lobbed into the undoubtedly clammy palms of a running Harmeet at mid-off. 

Rohit was not amused at the time because India were chasing a tricky total in an important T20 World Cup game, but he must have laughed later with his camp-mates from nearly 25 years ago. “Yeah, regular. You know him. It’s funny how he speaks, he’s just chill, so much banter,” says Netravalkar.  

As for the moment they first met in decades: “It was an emotional feeling to meet them after more than a decade. I was talking to Surya (kumar Yadav, another Mumbaikar in the side), and we were remembering the old times when we played our age-group cricket together. We just carried on from where we had left. It was good fun, so many jokes from back then came back to us,” says the 32-year-old. 

Netravalkar, a Goan native, still fluent in Konkani, had made it to Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy set up but after being overlooked repeatedly, he chose to go to University in the United States, almost instantly cutting off old cricketing bonds. 

“It’s hard to describe the journey of a decade in a few words, but I took the best call I could at the time (leaving for University). I am just glad that God has given me this chance to play cricket again.”

But Netravalkar is a full-time employee of Oracle and has taken a leave to be here, which is why when a fan shouted out ‘I am working from home too’, he couldn’t help but laugh on the ropes. “It’s happening very fast (fame). I am still digesting it, I’m glad we have done well. I love doing both, love my job at Oracle, I love this sport, I am blessed that I can do what I love for the most of the day.” 

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Published 13 June 2024, 16:59 IST

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