Ajaz Patel: 'Boy from Mumbai' enjoys emotional homecoming before 2nd Test vs India
For spinner Ajaz Patel, formal cricket training was out of reach till his 'middle-class Indian family' moved from Mumbai to New Zealand in 1996.
When the New Zealand team reached Mumbai ahead of the 2nd Test against India, there was a 'boy from Mumbai' in their ranks who was having an emotional homecoming. Ajaz Patel, who was sent to attend the press conference by his team on Wednesday evening, said it is special to be returning to the city he left in 1996 to play a Test.
"It's definitely emotional," said Patel in an online press conference on Wednesday evening. "I was thinking about it when we landed in Mumbai yesterday and I was coming out of the airport - the amount of times I've left the airport just to get on to my family or friends, to come back for a holiday. But this time it is a little bit different.
"I've come to Wankhede and watched a lot of IPL games, thanks to Mitchell McClenaghan. I've also bowled to Mumbai in their training sessions. so yes, it's cool as well as nostalgic to be here," said the New Zealand spinner.
Patel had a historic outing in his return to Mumbai - becoming the third bowler in Test cricket history to take 10 wickets in an innings. He finished the match with 14/225, creating a new record for the best bowling in a match for a visiting side in India, previously held by Sir Ian Botham in Bombay 1979/80.
In a column titled 'The Boy from Mumbai' written about his Indian heritage, Ajaz Patel had written in 'After the whistle': "When I think of Ajaz Patel, I think of the little boy who grew up in Mumbai. Who watched his parents work tirelessly, every single day, so that he could have a better life with better opportunities."
He had spoken about his middle-class Indian family and how formal training in cricket was out of his reach till he moved out of India as a 6-year-old. His father worked in refrigeration and his mother was a schoolteacher. He had also said when he was first told his family would be moving to New Zealand, his first thought was that he would get more chocolates.
"When I was young, it was just the possibility of getting more chocolate which is funny because now I sit in New Zealand and I get excited about returning to India for the Indian food," he had written.
Test cricket will be returning to Mumbai after almost five years. The last game played at the ground was against England in 2016. The Maharashtra government has capped the crowd capacity at 25 percent for the game.
The first Test in Kanpur ended in a draw after a pulsating final day as Ajaz Patel and all-rounder Rachin Ravindra denied India a win with their 10th-wicket stand.