Why both – Pranav Dhanawade and his opponents – should be commended!

Less than a week ago, a young man became the first earthling to cross the four-digit mark in an inning, making Pranav Dhanawade a household name. Accolades from the who’s who of the cricketing world followed. Comparisons, albeit prematurely, with the greatest followed soon after in the social world.

After the fairy-tale-turning-into-a-reality story had calmed down, few articles [First Post, SACricketMag, SportsKeeda] surfaced online, the ones that put things into perspective and looked at the other side of the Pranav special. While their points were pertinent, it was a bit unfair on them to criticize Pranav.

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Having played for my college team in a blink-and-you-miss match, I know how difficult it is to go on batting. I know that I’d get plain bored after batting so long (or after scoring a certain number of runs) and would end up throwing my wicket away to the dibbly dobblies thrown at me, even if it was by my 7 year old nephew. Yes, he probably had 1000 on his mind after the end of play on Day 1. But let’s take take nothing away from his efforts.

We live in a land that is obsessed with numbers. Guinness Book of World Records belong to individuals, but we celebrate when an Indian creates a new record almost as if brought big laurels to the country itself, even if the record would be as ridiculous as not taking a bath for 13 years.  It was hardly surprising then that KC Gandhi’s coach asked his lad to carry on. None of us happen to be Ramakant Achrekar, who scolded his wards (a certain Vinod Kambli and someone who the world knows as Sachin Tendulkar) as they carried on batting. We celebrate records more than the wins. Does anyone care that KC Gandhi won that game? A few years down the line, hardly anyone would remember the name of the school! That is just how we are programmed. And for a small town like Kalyan (and I come from around this area), this was a ‘dream’ regardless of who the opponents were. The local politicians and some bigwigs made a beeline to the ground on Day 2 to witness the massacre, coupled with the hope of sharing some obvious limelight that was coming to a town that is otherwise bereft of any noteworthy sporting news!

Now, a word about Arya Gurukul kids. I saw some clippings on news channels and even before the news broke that these were U14 kids, I could make out that some of these kids could hardly hold that leather, let alone catch them. Having played most part of my playing days with Tennis Ball and then converting to the leather ball in college, I know how difficult that transition is. It seems some of these kids were playing their first game with the leather ball. I hope the Principal of that school gave a hero’s welcome to those little ones when they returned back to school after those two days of torture on the field. I hope the teachers patted their backs for showing character even as they were getting thrashed. I hope the coach(es) and parents inject in their little minds that what they did was a pure show of selflessness towards the school that faced the prospect of relegation/being-banned if they didn’t turn up! I hope those kids got a standing ovation from their friends and school-mates (especially from Class X students) for the show of sportsmanship they showed by showing up again on Day 2 despite knowing what was in-store for them!

For me, the kids of Arya Gurukul were the real heroes. A notch higher than Pranav Dhanawade himself.

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