A few years back, after bagging the Man-of-the-Series award at the DY Patil All India tournament in Mumbai, Ajit Chandila got emotional and vent his frustration in front of the then chairman of selectors, Dilip Vengsarkar, who was the chief guest at the final.
“I have been performing but nobody seems to notice it,” he said. His angst was relayed live on national television. However, in 2012, big money came his way through the Indian T20 league. His early toil had paid off.
The Delhi cricketer used to ply his trade for daily wages and interned in Air India for a few years for a stipend before he eventually got a job in April, 2008 — among the last sports positions offered by the struggling organisation.
He had tried to get into the Delhi team but eventually had to settle for Haryana. In 2010, seven years after his List A debut, he played the first of his two Ranji games.
Born in Faridabad and bred at the Nahar Singh Stadium, Chandila would look for opportunities in Delhi's local tournaments. Teams offered him a daily wage of R400-500 and his hard-hitting grabbed attention. It took Chandila four years of toil before Air India confirmed him.
“Due to his hard-hitting, we would experiment by sending him up the order,” says Manoj Sharma, manager of the Air India team.
The seeds of his becoming a utility cricketer were laid. “We would open the bowling with him. It would catch everyone by surprise. He was chulbula (effervescent), always trying to unnerve the batsmen with words or even bowlers when he was sent up the order,” says Sharma.
“But one never expected that things would go this far.”