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Braced for the home truth

The Amdavadis — as the city residents like to refer to themselves — have in the recent past been inclined to travel to the suburbs and watch India cricketers in action at the Motera stadium. But they would have an emotional reason to watch the third ODI against West Indies on Monday — the presence of hometown hero Parthiv Patel. Amol Karhadkar reports.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2011 01:08 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Parthiv-Patel-gestures-as-he-warms-up-during-the-training-session-in-Visakhapatnam
Parthiv-Patel-gestures-as-he-warms-up-during-the-training-session-in-Visakhapatnam

The Amdavadis — as the city residents like to refer to themselves — have in the recent past been inclined to travel to the suburbs and watch India cricketers in action at the Motera stadium. But they would have an emotional reason to watch the third ODI against West Indies on Monday — the presence of hometown hero Parthiv Patel.

It has been almost a decade since the wicketkeeper-batsman first wore the India cap as a teenager. But on Monday, he will walk out at his favourite ground for the first time in India’s Blues.

But entertaining his home crowd will not really be on top of the 26-year-old’s mind. After all, Patel will be more keen on retaining his place in the squad with a decent outing with the bat. The left-handed batsman did end his six-and-a-half-year hiatus from the ODIs with impressive outings in England in September. However, since his 93 at Chester-le-Street, Patel has failed to score even a fifty, with 38 being his highest score in his last 10 outings.

And having scored 12 and two in the first two ODIs as opener, Patel would be under immense pressure to shift into self-preservation mode with the bat.

After all, ever since MS Dhoni rose on the international stage, Patel has been out of the squad for most of the last six years. And with the selectors having started to consider Wriddhiman Saha as the preferred reserve ’keeper for Tests, Patel has no choice but to come good with the willow if he has to keep his ODI spot.

Despite his failures in Cuttack and Visakhapatnam, the team management is backing Patel whole-heartedly. “It happens with an opener, when you come to bat after 50 overs of fielding, you maybe a little tired,” skipper Virender Sehwag said. “But he has to learn. He has to be consistent. Still, he is a young lad and he is learning and I am sure that in coming matches he will do well.”

If Patel turns things around, he will not only make his home crowd happy but will also retain his place in the last two ODIs, the squad for which is set to be selected on Monday.