This is the story of a unique XI made up of cricketers--among them, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh, Suresh Raina, Munaf Patel and S. Sreesanth--who made the leap from the hinterland to centre stage.
Difficult as it is to become a top-flight cricketer in India, it is doubly so for those growing up in small towns and villages. Yet there have been inspiring exceptions who have not let place names such as Azamgarh, Davangere, Ikhar, Jalandhar, Jamnagar, Kakur, Meerut, Muradnagar, Naichanpur, Najafgarh and Ranchi deter them from realizing their ambitions.
These men have made the transition from rice fields and akharas to hallowed sports grounds, from abject poverty and menial jobs to IPL riches, from tennis balls and rough-hewn bats to shiny, red leather balls and sponsored cricket bats.
A combination of a supportive family, a determined coach, talent and sheer hard work did the trick for them. Without this mix, the gentleman’s game would have lost these gifted players to farming, a job in Africa or driving a truck in Canada.
India is fortunate to have this team of small-town cricket heroes.