The monotony of asking cricketers, even senior team players, of who their favourite is, gets to you after a point. Sachin Tendulkar, is a point-blank answer, and this was especially so when New Zealand toured India last year, and people like Ross Taylor fell in line. So it did come as a bit of a surprise that a spinner from India came here to play the under-19 World Cup with dreams of meeting Daniel Vettori.
Gaurav Jathar, like his hero, does a lot more than just bowl left-arm spin and is hoping his dream will come true. “If the manager or someone arranges it that would be great. I would really like to meet Vettori,” said Jathar on the eve of India’s quarterfinal against Pakistan.
Jathar first picked up a cricket ball, when he was only five-and-a-half years old. Then, he bowled quick. “It was a bit of a tragedy. When I was about 13, I realised I was getting too tired trying to bowl quick, so I changed.”
Taken under wing by Paddy Shivalkar, perhaps the best left-arm spinner never to play for India, Jathar made steady advances through the ranks. A useful contributor with the bat and a live-wire fielder, Jathar is a typical example of a player beating off more talented but less well rounded competition.
“In one-day games everyone has to contribute. Even in these conditions, which help fast bowlers, a spinner can help by containing batsmen or getting breakthroughs,” he explains.
Jathar has had a good tournament so far, returning figures of 10-2-28-2 and 7-0-27-3 in the two matches he’s played, apart from effecting a couple of sensational run outs. He missed the match against England with a fever, but this has not diminished his enthusiasm.