As Ashok Menaria and Rashmi Parida crossed the boundary line after helping Rajasthan put one hand on the Ranji Trophy on Friday, the penultimate day of their final against Baroda, youngster Menaria was surrounded by an animated bunch of Rajasthan Cricket Association officials, who had arrived in the morning to witness the historical moment.
Parida, on the other hand, made a quiet exit and as he was nearing the dressing room, Narendra Hirwani, one of the two national selectors present at the Motibagh stadium, held his hand and said: "Well played, poorana chawal (old guard)."
The old guard, being the highest run-getting Oriya in first-class cricketer, acknowledged his former Air India senior before entering the dressing room and letting Menaria corner all the attention.
For more than a decade-and-a-half, despite being a prolific scorer, Parida has been the unsung hero. While he held one end up for Orissa for 15 seasons, the likes of Pravanjan Mullick and SS Das stole the limelight.
And, when he joined Rajasthan as a professional, his two professional colleagues, Aakash Chopra and skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, walked away with all the credit for their adopted team's rags-to-riches story. But Parida has no qualms about it. "When you have international players like Hrishi, who has been my Air India teammate, and Aakash, you expect them to be always in the limelight," Parida, who came in to bat on Friday when Rajasthan were precariously placed at 11 for three, said. "But I have known my role in the team since the first match. And I am glad I have been able to deliver throughout the season."
For someone like Parida, playing a Ranji final has always been a dream. And it has taken him 17 years to feature in one.