‘Pravin Tambe Kaun?’: The real-life cricketer who inspired Shreyas Talpade’s character

by NewsWire
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Pravin Tambe toiled for several years as a club cricketer in Mumbai but he never gave up and eventually he shot to fame from obscurity after he made his Indian Premier League (IPL) debut at the age of 41 for Rajasthan Royals in the 2013 season.

Before getting picked in IPL, Tambe had not even played a top-level game for a first-class side. Until the Rajasthan Royals scouts spotted his talent, his closest experience with top-level cricket came when he was named in the Mumbai Ranji probables in 2000.

During the early seasons of the IPL, the cricketer worked as a liaison officer whenever matches were played at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.

After making a fantastic IPL debut, the leg-spinner grabbed the spotlight in the Champions League T20 later that year, when he was the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 12 wickets in five games at an average of 6.50, better than the likes of Sunil Narine and R Ashwin. His performances that year earned him his maiden call-up for the Mumbai team in the 2013–14 Ranji Trophy.

In the 2014 IPL season, Tambe picked up a brilliant hat-trick against Kolkata Knight Riders, the first of that season and 12th, overall. His consistent performances at T20 level makes him an integral part of the RR unit.

Born on October 8, 1971, Tambe was a “maidan boy” from Mumbai who played in the city’s league tournament ever since adulthood. On weekends he played club cricket while holding a job during the week.

To get recognition within the Mumbai club cricket structure, he worked hard but was unsuccessful for several years and was on the fringes for almost two decades.

He assisted Shivaji Park Gymkhana for almost a decade.

Simultaneously, he played for his employers Orient Shipping Co Ltd in the inter-office tournament. Later, he moved to Dr DY Patil Sports Academy in Navi Mumbai, got greater responsibility in the dressing room, which ensured his continuation in the game.

He also gave up medium-pace bowling and opted for leg spin which became a game-changer for him. However, leg spin is a most difficult art to pick up even early in life and it was even more daunting for Tambe, who was in his 30s. However, didn’t give up and became an effective leg-spinner with his sheer determination.

And eventually, Rajasthan Royals, who were seeking a leg-spinner to replace Shane Warne, found in Tambe somebody who fit their purse as well as team-balance requirements.

Rahul Dravid has been a role model for the younger generation. He has inspired not just upcoming cricketers but also many others in different walks of life. Likewise, he also played an important role in Tambe’s rise as a captain of Rajasthan Royals.

“When people were questioning my age. During that time Rahul sir saw my performance. Saw the effect of my balls. Whatever I am today is because of Rahul sir. It was my dream to play under him in the IPL, talk to him, which was a reality,” said Tambe about Rahul Dravid in his recent interview.

“Rahul sir used to tell me to go and perform. These words of his used to give me motivation. These words of his always inspired me to move forward. And, it went on growing,” he added.

Once Dravid was asked about Tambe and the Bangalore-born cricketer termed the leg-spinner, an inspiration to many.

“I think he (Tambe) is a much bigger inspiration than I have been (to him). Someone like Pravin, who has spent so many years playing club matches and not even domestic cricket, is just one of the hundreds of thousands of kids of India who keep playing cricket without even having played first-class. His success is just phenomenal. He works hard, remains humble and I think he is a great inspiration for a lot of us,” a modest Dravid had said.

“The way he goes about his business at this age, he is constantly willing to learn, is simply amazing. He is an integral part of the team,” he added.

Pravin, who made his IPL debut against Delhi Capitals at Sawai Mansingh Stadium on May 07, 2013 played 33 matches and picked 28 wickets in the cash-rich league. He played his last IPL game against Royal Challengers Bangalore at M Chinnaswamy Stadium on May 14, 2016.

Overall, the leg-spinner has played 60 T20 matches and picked 70 wickets with bowling average of 22.35. He has also played two first class matches, where he got 2 wickets.

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