‘Burning desire to play for India kept me going’.

Johnson Cherian.
Just as Parthiv Patel was about to retire for the night in Hubballi, after leading Gujarat’s charge against Mumbai halfway into the Ranji Trophy match, his phone rang. It turned out to be the call he had anxiously been awaiting for the past couple of days — or what had seemed an eternity.
“A couple of days ago, I had been sounded out about it and asked to be prepared mentally. Obviously you feel for Wriddhiman (Saha) but you can’t do anything about injuries. But when the call actually came last night, the immediate reaction was I was quite excited and happy to be part of the Test team again after eight years,” Parthiv told The Hindu from Belgaum airport.
In Indian cricket, a player making a comeback in Tests after eight years is a rare phenomenon. In fact, when a player waits such a long time after last wearing the Indian uniform, more often than not he gets into “enjoying the game” mode while enduring the rigours of domestic cricket. But Parthiv’s case has been an exception ever since he made his Test debut as a 17-year-old in 2002.
The Gujarat captain, who has established himself as one of the leading wicketkeepers and a reliable batsman in domestic cricket, insisted it was not just the advantage of age being on his side that had helped him continue to strive for another Test cap.
“Basically, I had the advantage of making my debut early but the motivation and the burning desire to play for India again was very high. That’s how I kept myself fit to play Test cricket again,” he said. “And when you play IPL, you get to face the best bowlers in the world.
“Scoring against them also gives you the belief that you do belong there; you are very much part of the scheme of playing for India again.”
One-off Test pressure
With Saha likely to resume duties for the fourth Test against England in Mumbai, does the factor of ’keeping in a one-off Test put more pressure on Parthiv?
“I am just happy to be back in the side. I am not putting any kind of pressure on myself of getting just one chance. I am not worried about it at all. I am just trying to live in this moment and try and do well if and when I am given the responsibility to represent India again,” he said.
The unexpected call-up to the National side meant that Parthiv, for the first time in his long career, has left a Ranji Trophy game midway. Howsoever desperate he was to finish the game as the Gujarat captain, logistically it wasn’t possible. After all, it was to take him a two-and-a-half-hour drive followed by a couple of flights to join the team in Chandigarh from Hubballi, the venue for the Ranji game.
“I have never left a Ranji match mid-way. It’s happened a couple of times that I have joined Gujarat for a match, but left before the start of the game after being selected in the National side. This is a first, but can’t help it,” Parthiv signed off.

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