By Derk Abraham
Sometime during his Under-19 days, Rohit Sharma spotted a luxury sedan in his locality. “Sir, mein yeh gaadi khareedoonga (sir, I’ll buy this vehicle),” he declared.
Dinesh Lad, an old-school coach who had taken the boy under his wings when he was barely 11, was absolutely stumped. “Gaadi-vaadi sab baad mein. Abhi cricket pe dhyaan de (you can buy a car and all that later; now, focus on your cricket),” Lad cautioned him.
Fast-forward to 2013, and Sharma’s garage occupies a BMW among other mean machines. Not only does he make an uber-cool sum of $2 million every season from his contract with the Mumbai Indians, the 26-year-old also lives in a five-bedroom penthouse in the heart of Bandra.
Add to that a few endorsement deals, a central contract with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and good looks, and you have someone who can walk into the ‘most eligible bachelor’ club.
“He was always ambitious,” a delighted Lad says. The coach is over the moon for three reasons: his bada beta (elder son) has just scored a match-winning hundred in India’s out-of-the-world victory against Australia in Jaipur; he’s also been named skipper of Mumbai for the upcoming season and last, but most importantly, his son Siddhesh has made it to the Mumbai squad for the Ranji Trophy opener against Haryana. The match will be the last of Sachin Tendulkar’s domestic career, and Lad hopes it will be the first of many for his son.
“I can’t explain how happy I am. This knock could be the turning point in Rohit’s life,” adds Lad, who till recently counted Rohit’s parents among his neighbours in Gorai. Rohit, who was born in Bansod and raised in Borivali by his paternal uncle, has come up the hard way.
“His parents were in Dombivli, but Rohit stayed away because his grandpa wanted it that way. He was the first grandson of the family. I noticed him at a local tournament in Borivali. It was his off-spin that caught the eye,” Lad recalls.
Rohit’s father, Gurunath, lost his job after the transport company he worked in shut shop. “His family could not afford to even pay the fees. But the Swami Vivekananda International School, where I still work, gave him a freeship. They supported him in every way,” Lad says.
(The writer is Principal Correspondent at DNA, where the above article was first published)