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Pravin Tambe's real-life movie continues at Legends League

Pravin Tambe, the highest wicket-taker at Legends League Cricket 2022, has once more asserted his identity as the man who refused to give up dreaming.

Pravin Tambes real-life movie continues at Legends League
Kaun Pravin Tambe- Biopic on journey of Pravin Tambe (Credits- Hotstar)

Pritish Raj

Updated: 7 Oct 2022 5:21 AM GMT

Pravin Tambe's first thought when he had been approached to have a film made on his life was - "Why me?"

'Kaun Pravin Tambe?' made him "feel a lot lighter" as he felt the world could finally understand his struggle, but he made sure to right one wrong after his side India Capitals won the Legends League Cricket 2022 final this week. "My family, especially my wife, has always been beside me. She pushed me to come to play in this league as well," he said.

Returning to Rajasthan, where he had made a sensational IPL debut as a late bloomer almost a decade ago, Tambe finished as the highest wicket-taker of the league for retired cricketers - once more showing just why his story had been picked out by the makers of the Bollywood film.

"When I was approached for the movie, I was very surprised because I was not a big cricketer. I had just played in the IPL then. I thought why weren't they going for a player who had played for India," Tambe told The Bridge.

"I eventually agreed because I realised there are a lot of people like me, both in cricket and in the rest of the world, who gave up on their dream. The movie might help some people understand that dreams do come true, but only if you can keep grinding long enough," he said.

Faced rejection everywhere, but never rejected my dreams: Tambe

Dreams are beautiful. People often dream about something, but few achieve it, and most give up after some time. Once in a blue moon, there comes a story like Tambe's. In a nation crazy for cricket like India, countless dreams and aspirations are lost in oblivion. Once in a blue moon comes a 41-year-old making his debut in the best T20 league in the world without playing any first-class game.

A gritty leg spinner from Mumbai, Pravin Tambe was anonymous for the majority of his career, grinding it out in the maidans of Mumbai. When he was scouted by Rajasthan Royals at the age of 41, he gave Indian cricket a story the likes of which were never heard before.

"It was a tough journey, but it was worth the effort in the end. People now come and tell me that it is great I never gave up. I have had sleepless nights. I have seen rejection from everyone, close family members, my peers and the cricket association of course (laughs) but I never rejected myself and I guess that is more important," Tambe said.

Current India coach Rahul Dravid once surprised everyone by speaking about Tambe at a public event. "A lot of time people expect me to talk about greats like Sachin, Kumble and Ganguly. But the story I like to tell is the story of Pravin Tambe. Despite not getting any chance to represent Mumbai at any level, he kept bowling for 20 years in maidans. For me, that is passion and one of the greatest stories," Dravid had said.

Tambe is still grateful to everything Dravid did for him.

"I was touched when I heard Rahul Dravid speaking about me in his speech. When he gave me a chance at Rajasthan Royals, it was the best thing that had ever happened to me. I cried after my first game. All my life, I had looked for opportunities and how to make the most of them. When the RR chance came, I made sure I take it with both hands," he recalled.

It was the Ranji Trophy that Tambe had made his dream, but his chance came to him in the IPL.

"Life has mysterious ways. I never thought I'd get to live my dream in the IPL," he said.

But Mumbai did eventually invite him in the 2013-14 season as he fulfilled his long-held dream of playing a First-Class match.

As sports biopics go, 'Kaun Pravin Tambe' did a good job of making a human drama out of Tambe's life. For the character himself, watching the film was liberating, he said.

"It was beautiful to see my story reaching so many people. I felt a lot lighter after the movie. All that baggage of never playing at Ranji level and everything else was finally shared with others," he said.

Big brother no more

For as long as he can remember, Tambe has been the 'big brother' of the dressing room. Be it at the DY Patil Stadium, where he has played the most, or at the IPL or CPL, where he played at the age of 48, he has always been double the age of the youngest team member.

But not at the LLC, where Tambe teamed up with the likes of Gautam Gambhir and Ross Taylor to lead the India Capitals team to the title this week. At the age of 50 and living a contented post-retirement life, Tambe is finally playing with people closer to his age.

And it was also a mini-reunion of sorts for some RR cricketers. Ross Taylor, Shane Watson, Sreesanth, Yusuf Pathan and Pankaj Singh - all former RR players - were also part of the final alongside Tambe.

Pravin Tambe is finally playing with people closer to his age.

"I don't think much about the future. I will keep grabbing opportunities and keep playing, as I still feel absolutely fit. I am involved with coaching and I love grooming youngsters, making them aware of mistakes they can avoid and how they can keep evolving every day. That remains the plan," Tambe said with a smile.

Pravin Tambe never played for India, but everyone will cite his example whenever another person gives up on their dreams. That remains the power of his story in Indian cricket folklore.

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