The story of Rahul Tewatia, transformation of a village boy to a global star
Vol 11 | Issue 40
Criminal advocate Krishan Pal Tewatia had never received so many phone calls in a single day as he did on Monday and had never received so many unknown visitors at his home in Sihi village in Sector 8 of Faridabad, near Delhi.
Reason: His only son and latest IPL star, Rahul Tewatia, had on Sunday sprung into the limelight at Sharjah as he set up an improbable win for Rajasthan Royals with the bat.
The little-known Tewatia, a leg-spinner in the traditional mould and a hard-hitting left-handed batsman, catapulted to headline news by Sunday midnight after he swatted 53 off 31 balls, including seven sixes, at No.4 that took Royals to the brink of victory.
|Rahul Tewatia hails from a village near Delhi in Haryana (Photo: IANS)|
The 27-year-old player was out when only two runs were required for a win, which Royals duly sealed - and he instantly attracted global fame.
Tewatia's pyrotechnics with the bat not only triggered celebrations in the Royals' camp, but in his home in Sihi village, over 2,000 kms away from Sharjah, people descended in hordes to congratulate Krishan Pal for his son's fearless performance.
"They told me Rahul was not just my son but that he was the 'son of the village'. I met so many people and received so many calls on Sunday that I got a headache. I must have met around 400 people who visited my home and must have received about a thousand calls -- all congratulating me for Rahul's performance. I am overwhelmed," said Krishan Pal.
Tewatia's cricket story is like a rollercoaster. Apart from representing all age-group and Ranji Trophy teams of Haryana, he has also turned out for Kings XI Punjab and Delhi Capitals, besides twice for Rajasthan Royals. But till Sunday night he had failed to make people sit up and take notice, either with his leg-spin or hard-hitting batting.
It was a casual suggestion from a friend of Krishan Pal's younger brother Dharamveer that set off Tewatia's cricket journey. Krishan Pal said two persons played key roles in the transformation of Rahul from being village boy to a global star.
"Rahul as a kid was playing with a plastic bat and ball when Mukesh, a friend of Dharamveer, noticed the spark in him. He was the first one to suggest that we should put Rahul into cricket. The other person who played a key role was former India wicket-keeper Vijay Yadav," said Krishan Pal.
Once the family was convinced of the idea, Krishan Pal asked Rahul to sit on his motorbike and took him to Cricket Gurukul, the cricket academy of Vijay Yadav. Rahul was about eight years old at the time, around 2000-01, and his cricket journey had well and truly begin.
"When he came to me he was already bowling leg-spin and he was a decent bat. The most important thing that I immediately noticed was his eagerness and willingness to play; and he was dheet [stubborn] too, in a positive sense. He had 100 per cent positive attitude, still has. He would grab the ball or the bat and would confidently ask me to send him to bat up the order and he would win me the match, or ask for the ball and say he would dismiss the opposing batsmen," said former Test wicket-keeper Vijay Yadav.
"His game suits the shorter formats. He was always good at batting. I would always tell him to focus on his batting more because in the shorter formats it becomes easy to get into an XI if one is a batting all-rounder, someone who can score meaningful runs lower down the order. Rahul also has leadership qualities, and he showed that in all the local matches that he would play," said the former Haryana captain.
Tewatia represented Haryana in under-15, under-19, and under-22 tournaments. But it was difficult for him to break into the Ranji Trophy. "Haryana at the time already had three class leg-spinners - Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Jayant Yadav. So, it was difficult for Rahul to get into the Ranji team, and because of that his father became a little unhappy as well, though momentarily," recalls Yadav, who himself was a hard-hitting batsman.
Then came the 2018 IPL auction and it changed Tewatia's life. Till then the 24-year-old had taken only 13 wickets in 17 matches. From a base price of Rs 20 lakh, he was grabbed by Delhi Daredevils for an unexpected Rs.3 crore, following fierce bidding that also involved Kings XI Punjab and SunRisers Hyderabad.
Krishan Pal, however, insists that his family members' lives haven't changed one bit, despite the fat cheque his son has earned. "Our lifestyle still remains the same; we haven't changed at all. I am happy with my small Reva car," he says. And has his son purchased a new car? Krishan Pal's reply was a bit unusual: "No. In fact, I have got him a Toyota Corolla car and I am still paying the EMI for that." That is, however, their family matter and no one should be concerned about how Tewatia spends his hard-earned money.
After Tewatia's fireworks with the bat on Sunday, Delhi Capitals would surely rue trading him with Rajasthan Royals before the current IPL began, a team the leg-spinner had earlier represented, in 2014, without doing anything noteworthy. That was his first year in IPL and the Royals had bought him for Rs10 lakhs. He was with the Royals in 2015, before he moved to Kings XI Punjab in 2017 and was with Delhi in 2018 and 2019.
Tewatia has also represented the ONGC cricket team on a stipend. "Tewatia is a good package. He is very good at improvisation, and grabs opportunities with both hands. He would usually bat at No.5 or No.6, but if he bats at No.4 he would be more useful. And he possesses a good flipper and googly, and has control over these deliveries. He helped ONGC win several tournaments in Delhi and outside, like Goswami Ganesh Dutt Memorial, Om Nath Sood, and JP Atray Tournament. He is also jovial and has a good sense of humour. He is well-behaved, and is a good thinker of the game," said Gautam Vadhera, a former ONGC Games Coordinator and former Delhi Ranji batsman, told IANS.
The wheel turned a full circle for Rahul Tewatia on Sunday. The sky is the limit. - IANS