The likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sunil Gavaskar and Viv Richards have won the competition before © Getty Images
By Taus Raizvi
Mumbai: Mar 10, 2014
Prior to the start of the Vijay Merchant Single Wicket Cricket Competition, Amit Dani took a good hard look at the list of past winners of the tournament organised by the PJ Hindu Gymkhana after a gap of 24 years. Did he have goosebumps? He probably did. Anyone would.
The likes of Viv Richards, Sunil Gavaskar, Ashok Mankad, Eknath Solkar and Sandeep Patil have won this event. The list of players who’ve finished second-best is no less inspiring: Ajit Wadekar, Madan Lal, Yajuvindra Singh, Asif Iqbal and Sachin Tendulkar.
Dani, a 41-year-old with 18 first-class matches under his belt, too, wanted his name on that list. And the all-rounder realised his dream by defeating Anup Revankar on Sunday evening.
Dani, who has played Ranji Trophy cricket for Mumbai and Goa, was far better than the many youngsters who turned up at the historic gymkhana.
Dani said he was glad to make it to the elite list. “Before the competition began, I went through the list. I was thrilled to learn that legends like Richards, Tendulkar and Gavaskar had won this event. I don’t have words to express my joy,” said the all-rounder who is employed with IndianOil.
It was Dani’s maiden appearance in the competition which was discontinued in 1990 primarily for want of sponsors. “I started playing around the same time the event was discontinued. And to win it now is great,” he said.
Dani looked much fitter and stronger than his younger rivals. He hit fours and sixes at will, bowled accurately and made short work of the rest. “Fitness is the secret to my success. I have been working out for the last 20 years. I don’t feel I am old even though I am 40. I prefer being in the gym than in bed,” he said, adding, “Honestly I play to protect my reputation. I am a utility cricketer, an all-rounder who always gives his best.”
Dani, who is also the fielding coach of the Mumbai senior side, hasn’t given up on professional cricket. In fact, he hopes to play in the IPL one day. “Why not? I still hope to play in the IPL. In fact, one franchise had approached me before the player auction. However, they had a change of heart. Apparently, they were not interested in picking an old player,” he said.
Final: Amit Dani 27 runs (31-4 penalty) beat Anup Revankar -6 runs (6-12 penalty).
(Taus Rizvi is a Principal Correspondent with DNA. A club-level cricketer, he believes cricket helps in knowing a person’s character. Taus can be followed on @rizvitaus on Twitter. The above news has been republished with permission from DNA, were it first appeared)