Jeet Raval: 10 lesser-known facts about Indian-born cricketer all set to play for New Zealand
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Playing cricket at the highest level is a dream for all the cricketers. While some get to live it by representing their country, others miss out. There are also few cricketers who get to live this dream, albeit not by playing for the country of their birth. Imran Tahir (South Africa), Usman Khawaja (Australia) and Kevin Pietersen (England) are few such examples. On Friday, one more name was added to this list: Indian-born Jeet Raaval was drafted into the New Zealand Test squad for the tours of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about the Ahmedabad-lad who moved Down Under to pursue his dream.

1.  Ahmedabad boy: Raval was born in Gujarat and raised in Ahmedabad till the age of 16.

2.  Parthiv Patel’s opening partner: During his days in Ahmedabad, Raval and Indian cricketer Parthiv Patel studied in the same school. As a matter of fact, both even opened the innings for their school team. Till date, he shares a great friendship with the Indian wicketkeeper and considers him as an inspiration.

3.  Represented Gujarat U-15, U-17 teams: A talented cricketer right from the beginning, Raval represented Gujarat Under-15 and 17 teams.

4.  Moved to New Zealand: Raval’s father Ashok decided to move to New Zealand in 2004. This is how young Raval (only 16 then) came to Auckland and took the long road of becoming a cricketer.

5.  Mentored by Dipak Patel: After moving to New Zealand and starting his cricketing journey, Raval was mentored by former New Zealand cricketer of Indian origin Dipak Patel.

6.  ‘Rahul Dravid’ of Auckland: Due to his temperament to stay at the crease for long hours and rock-solid defence, his Auckland team-mates call him ‘Rahul Dravid’, the Indian legend also known as ‘The Wall’ for his watertight technique.

7.  Idolises Sourav Ganguly: He might be compared to Dravid for his technique, but Raval is a self-confessed fan of former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. Just like his idol, Raval also bats left-handed.

8.  Connection with Indian players: During his age-group cricket days in India, Raval has played with Indian players such as Ajinkya Rahane, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Piyush Chawla among others. He also keeps in touch with his state’s player Manprit Juneja.

9.  Watershed season and subsequent national call: In the current season, Raval scored heavily for Auckland and thus created waves in New Zealand’s cricket circles. In the Plunket Shield 2015-16, he scored 780 runs at an average of 55.71. This eventually led to his call-up to the New Zealand Test squad for the tours of Zimbabwe and South Africa.

10.  The ‘Indian’ club: If named in the playing XI during any game on either of the two tours, Raval could join the likes of Narotam ‘Tom’ Puna, Dipak Patel, Jeetan Patel, Ish Sodhi, Ronnie Hira and Tarun Nethula in the club of Indian-origin cricketers who represented the Black Caps.

(A self-confessed cricket freak, Chinmay Jawalekar is a senior writer with CricLife and CricketCountry. When not writing or following cricket, he loves to read, eat and sleep. He can be followed here @CricfreakTweets)