Cricket is not just a sport in India, it is a second religion for the inhabitants of the subcontinent. Every youngster playing cricket in the streets and maidans of India dreams of playing for the country.
A decade ago when Sachin Tendulkar broke into the Indian side as a teenager, not only had he made a record but he also proved that age is not a restricting factor when it comes to playing cricket.
A youngster from the sedate state of Gujarat has a similar dream to play for his country. The boy like many more before him picked up the cricket bat when he was three years old. His first introduction with the leather ball was not until the age of ten. Five years later the boy finds himself leading the West Zone Under-19 team against a touring England Under-19 side.
The boy is Parthiv Patel, a fluent southpaw, who has the dual responsibility of opening the innings with the bat and keeping wickets. His idol is the explosive Aussie, Adam Gilchrist. Patel's explosive drives are already showing signs of being similar to the Aussie stumper. Patel loves to thump the ball, he paces his innings with a blend of calculated attack and rock solid defense.
Gilchrist lead the Australian team to a test victory over the West Indies in the absence of Steve Waugh. Similar traits followed for his young fan. Patel got his chance to lead the West Zone Under-19 against the England Under-19 due to the unavailability of the West Zone skipper Vinayak Mane. He could not emulate his idol's feat as the rains played spoil sport washing out two of the three days of play.
Patel only in his second season in the Under-19 age group finds himself not only donning the gloves but also the honour of leading the prestigious West Zone Under-19 side. In the current season Patel lead the Gujarat Under-16 team in the Vijay Merchant trophy where his batting aggregate speaks volumes of his prowess. This season alone he has ammased 902 runs in the Under- 16 and the Under-19 matches. He scored his maiden hundred at the start of this season and hasn't looked back since. Patel already has an unbeaten double hundred to his name at the tender age of fifteen.
The level of maturity that the young teenager displays is truly amazing. He lead Gujarat to a draw after conceding the first innings lead to giants Mumbai in their own backyard in the Under- 16 tournament. Patel has also achieved the distinction of scoring a hundred in each innings. He acheived this target in an Under-16 match against Maharashtra. He scored a century in the first innngs and an unbeaten double hundred in the second.
Even at the tender age of fifteen, Patel has made his mark at the Under-19 level. His prolific performances have earned him a place in the Rest of India Under-19 team to play for the MA Chidambaram Trophy against the Cooch Behar Trophy winners, Haryana.
Patel aspires to play for India and would like to beat Australia in a test match in Australia. Long dreams but like we all know dreams come true for people who want them badly enough.