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Ikhar celebrates Munaf's dream debut

His success sparked big celebrations at his village, with one man comparing it to Eid festivities.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 13:08 IST

Pacer Munaf Patel's key role in India's win over England in his debut Test match at Mohali on Monday sparked spontaneous celebrations at his village in Gujarat, with one man comparing it to Eid festivities.

"Today is like Eid for us," a young neighbour of Patel's jubilant family said in Ikhar village in central Gujarat's Bharuch district, about 120 km from here, as others burst crackers, distributed sweets and played drums.

The villagers were celebrating the sterling performance of Munaf Patel in the nine-wicket victory.

The 22-year-old, the second Gujarati in the Indian team after fellow pacer Irfan Pathan, claimed seven English wickets for 97 runs, providing valuable support to Anil Kumble, who was judged the Man of the Match.

More than 1,000 people went around the streets of Ikhar, crowding Munaf's small house, shouting slogans hailing the young man who has brought recognition to the village.

"We are thrilled with Munaf's play," said Musa Ali Patel, his father who is a small-time cotton farmer.

His mother told a TV channel in Gujarati: "Everybody in the village is happy, people across Gujarat are happy.

"We are proud of the boy, and we are sure he will earn more fame and success."

An elderly man commented that he had never seen such jubilation in the village.

"Old or young, every one is overjoyed and hugging one another," he said as reporters streamed into the village from neighbouring towns as Munaf's role began to unfold.

Munaf's seven wickets was the best debut performance by any fast bowler in the history of Indian cricket.

While the player had been drawing the attention of experts since 2003 for his performance in first class cricket, it was his 10-wicket haul in the warm-up match against England last month that convinced the selectors of his potential.

Although Munaf could not make it to the squad in the first Test at Nagpur, he was given the cap for the second Test— and Munaf proved that the selectors had made the right decision.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 12:36 IST