A baby-faced boy seemed to have emerged as answer to India's quest for a wicketkeeper. Nayan Mongia was fading out and the likes of Sameer Dighe, Vijay Dahiya, Ajay Ratra were being tried without much success.
So when Parthiv Patel was plucked out of the India U-19 team, made his debut in England in 2002 and left the field amid applause from the English players after a plucky, unbeaten 19 that helped India avoid defeat in his first Test, it seemed as if a suitable boy had arrived.
Strong square off the wicket, Parthiv did play a few more gutsy knocks including a 69 as opener in Rawalpindi against Shoaib Akhtar in 2003-04 but his keeping, particularly in the Sydney Test earlier that season, eventually cost him a place in the side. Although he kept in Sri Lanka in 2008 when M.S. Dhoni opted out, he has subsequently been overtaken by Dhoni, Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha.
But as Gujarat opener, Parthiv continues to be a prolific batsman in domestic cricket. He was the third highest scorer in this season's Ranji Trophy (727 runs in seven matches at 66.09). A place in the Board President's XI to take on South Africa is a just reward for that. And that's something he is looking forward to.
“I'll be playing against a foreign team after some time and want to make most of it,” Parthiv told HT. “Things like selection I can't control. My job is to perform and I'm happy with the way I've done. I've had a good season, improved as a batsman, my record shows that, and I have scored runs on different surfaces. I have also taken some good catches. I'm a better cricketer now than what I used to be.”
Like every Indian cricketer, the 25-year-old is excited about the IPL, where he has had two decent seasons with the Chennai Super Kings, having scored some brisk runs as opener.
“It's been a great stint so far. It's exciting to be playing with Dhoni and other superstars of international cricket. We've had a good run too and once the South Africa match gets over, I'll start focusing on the IPL.”
Out of sight but not completely out of mind, Parthiv has done his cause no harm by making good of the opportunities. Having seen both sides of the coin and with age still on his side, he has every reason to keep fingers crossed and hope that one day, his chance will come again.