His Test career started amidst whispers of admiration, for Indian selectors rarely show such enterprise. Only two Indians had made their Test debut at a younger age at that point.
The youngest was Sachin Tendulkar. The other was Laxman Sivaramakrishnan, the leg-spinner, who saw his highly promising career subside after eight Tests. Many felt he got too much too early.
It was hoped it would be different for Parthiv Patel, as he ground out a match-saving 18 not out in almost 90 minutes on Test debut against England at Trent Bridge in August, 2002.
However, wicket-keeping is a job where the best get exposed. Many let-offs, especially against Anil Kumble, saw the selectors show him the door after 19 Tests in two years, including series in Australia, New Zealand and the historic tour to Pakistan in 2004.
It was devastating for the Gujarat player, as he became the butt of jokes and criticism at 19. Many would have broken down, but Parthiv's resolve led to solid efforts with the bat at the domestic level and on various 'A' series. And he ironed out flaws in his keeping.
He was recalled for a Test in Sri Lanka in 2008, in MS Dhoni's absence, and for a few ODIs before the World Cup. Only 26, the selectors have put their faith in him for the limited-overs leg in the Caribbean while the skipper takes a break until the Tests.
Patel is not worried about his longevity in international cricket. "I must have done a lot of right things and that is why I am back in the India team. Playing a lot of domestic cricket must have helped me, on different surfaces and situations," he says.
"People had started to say there was a major flaw in my wicket-keeping --- receiving the ball and getting up early. It wasn't a technical problem, rather a lapse in concentration. Probably, it had to do with fitness as well.
"When you're playing for India, there has to be a lot of competition. But everyone knows if you perform, you stay in the side, if you don't, you don't. And I did not perform."
The maturity is unmistakable. No regrets for losing his India spot to Dinesh Karthik and then to Dhoni. "It was not easy to accept… but there is no point thinking about the past."
"There were phases when I was low. But I should be proud of the way I have handled it."
The youthful India team in the Caribbean is focussed on the future. And the young veteran is happy to play anchor, in front or behind the stumps.