Normally, you would expect India to grind it out against some real South African talent, tall and strong and bowling quick, in the nets ahead of their tour opener on December 5.
But they got bowlers, who are part-time cricketers, and expatriates working as labourers and playing for a club owned by a detergent company.
While the others left after the Indians ended their session, one of them who stayed on for South Africa’s turn got dwarfed when Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn walked out.
Saleem Patel doesn’t exactly looks like a threatening bowler, and although he bowls decently, he is one of those for whom cricket hasn’t been a fairytale.
Patel, who was born in Bharuch, played with Munaf Patel, a friend from childhood days, and in the Mumbai maidans before moving to England, back to India, to Malawi and to South Africa. All his life, cricket has given him pleasure and agony. “Munaf (Patel) is a friend. We played in Bharuch. He was good, therefore made it big. I tried hard in Mumbai but after failure went to England.”
In England, where he went in 2003, he took up an odd job and also tried his luck with clubs. Then, he came back to Mumbai. After struggling, he flew to Malawi, gave up cricket for a while and took up a job.
Destiny, relatives from his village and cricket brought him to South Africa. And while he is still struggling for a job, he gets an opportunity to play for a team.
The last time India came here (2010-11), Munaf gave him an India cap and India shirt. “It was something I always wanted. It is something we all take pride in,” he says with a smile.