As the India batsmen took guard at the practice nets on Tuesday, around five net bowlers stood at the end of their run-up. One after the other, they darted to the bowling crease to send down the best deliveries they could to their heroes.
But one bowler caught the eye, not just
for his bowling skills but also the fact that he had a 'congenital amputation' of his left-arm. Despite the disability, 25-year-old Gurudas Raut went about his task in a professional manner.
Earlier in the day, Raut had bowled to Alastair Cook and he cherished every delivery he bowled to the England skipper. "I feel honoured to have bowled to one of the top batsmen in the world," said Raut.
This was not the first time Raut was bowling to foreign players. "I bowled to the India, South Africa and Australia teams during the 2011 World Cup," he said.
Though he has had the fortune of bowling to Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni, who termed his bowling "unbelievable", Raut's dream of bowling to his idol, Sachin Tendulkar, remains unfulfilled. However, his other dream of representing the country was fulfilled when he led India's differently-abled team to victory over Pakistan earlier this year.
All day long Raut kept hoping against hope that he would bowl to Sachin, but when the maestro came out to bat, he only took throwdowns. "I thought I would get another opportunity later in the afternoon, but as luck would have it, I couldn't bowl to Sachin," said Raut.
The secret of enjoying cricket, Raut feels, is to think that, "impairment can never come in my way". "As a child, when I did well against able-bodied children, I realised I could play the game equally well."