RIP Irrfan Khan: Before films, did you know he gave up a career in cricket because he couldn’t afford a Rs 200 ticket?

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Apr 29, 2020 02:28 PM IST

Before Irrfan Khan took the film industry by storm, he was gearing up to be a cricketer and was even selected in a tournament.

The tragic demise of the phenomenally talented Irrfan Khan has sent shockwaves across the globe. The 53-year-old actor breathed his last at the Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital on Wednesday, after being admitted for a colon infection a day earlier. He was diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumour in 2018.

Irrfan Khan wanted to become a cricketer before he became an actor.(AFP)
Irrfan Khan wanted to become a cricketer before he became an actor.(AFP)

Before Irrfan made it big in films, he was training to be a cricketer. On the chat show Son of Abish in 2017, he had said that though he was ‘good’, his career as a sportsperson came to a premature end because of lack of funds.

Irrfan told host and comedian Abish Mathew that he was an all-rounder but preferred batting over bowling. “My captain liked my bowling, so he made me a bowler. I don’t know. He used to tell me, ‘Throw me a nice one…’ I used to just throw the ball and somehow used to get a couple of wickets,” he said.

Also read: Irrfan Khan, actor extraordinaire and India’s face in the West, dies at 53

Due to his talent, Irrfan was selected to play in the Col CK Nayudu tournament, for players under the age of 23. “I was selected in one of the tournaments - CK Nayudu. The situation in my house was such that I had to lie to go and play, and make excuses when asked where we were. So it wasn’t encouraged to have a career in sports,” he said.

Irrfan was forced to give up on his cricket dreams when he could not afford a ticket to travel to Ajmer for the tournament. “When I was selected, the team had to travel from Jaipur to Ajmer, and I needed Rs 200-250. I couldn’t arrange for it. So that day, I realised that I couldn’t pursue this,” he said.

The cricket world’s loss became the film industry’s gain. Irrfan went on to straddle a successful career in Bollywood as well as Hollywood, working in films such as Piku, The Lunchbox, Slumdog Millionaire, Maqbool and Inferno.

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