Munaf Patel: 10 interesting things to know about the Indian pacer

Munaf Patel, born July 12, 1983, is an Indian pacer who was once touted to be the fastest bowler in India. On his 32nd birthday, Shiamak Unwalla looks at 10 interesting facts about the man who represented India in two World Cups.

 

1.  Humble beginnings

Munaf was born in Ikhar, a farming village of barely 8,000 people near Bharuch in Gujarat. And yet, that humble background only helped him. An anecdote related in Indian Express, says that when India crashed out of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Sachin Tendulkar had asked Munaf whether there was any trouble back home since the rest of the team were facing a massive backlash in India. Munaf replied, “Paaji, jahan main rahta hoon na, udhar aath hazaar log hai and 8,000 mera security hai!” [Where I live, there are just 8,000 people, and those 8,000 people are my security].

 

2.  Massive hype

Even before playing a First-Class game, Munaf was already being looked at as the fastest bowler in India. Kiran More discovered Munaf after the then-20-year-old came to his coaching academy. More promptly sent him to the MRF Pace Foundation, where he impressed the likes of Dennis Lillee and Steve Waugh.

 

3.  Impressing the Little Master

While Gujarat and Baroda were both vying for Munaf’s services, he was approached by Tendulkar to play for Mumbai. Munaf promptly accepted, and ended up making his First-Class debut for Mumbai.

 

4.  Impressive on Test debut

Munaf had to wait till 2006 before making his Test debut. But when he finally debuted, it was a memorable one. Playing against England at Mohali, Munaf’s maiden Test wicket was that of Kevin Pietersen, caught and bowled. Incidentally, his second wicket — Andrew Flintoff — was also dismissed caught and bowled. He ended up taking three for 72 in the first innings as England were bowled out for 300. India managed to get a 38-run lead, and Munaf and Anil Kumble then proceeded to rout England for just 181 with Munaf taking four for 25 as India won by nine wickets. Munaf’s match figures of seven for 97 were the best by an Indian pacer on debut.

 

5.  A forgettable feat

Though Munaf started off well, frequent bout of injuries and overall fitness issues meant that he was in and out of the Test team. However, despite being at his peak he once suffered the ignominy of being hit for six fours in a seven-ball over.

In the third Test between India and West Indies at St Kitts in 2006, Ramnaresh Sarwan scored a superb 116 in what was ultimately a drawn Test. One of the highlights of the game came when Sarwan moved from 75 to 99 in one Munaf over, hitting the pacer for six fours in a row — one of which was a no-ball.

 

6.  Domestic traveller

While Munaf started his Ranji Trophy career with Mumbai, he shifted to Maharashtra after Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit and captain Sairaj Bahutule made the switch. However, things ended on a sour note with Maharashtra, and he then shifted to Baroda, for whom he still plays. In addition, Munaf has also played for two IPL teams: Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians.

 

7.  The unsung hero

India’s then bowling coach Eric Simmons said that Munaf was the unsung hero of India’s ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 title victory. Munaf was India’s third-highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 11 scalps, behind Yuvraj Singh (15) and Zaheer Khan (21).

 

8.  Rowdy on the field

Munaf has a reputation of being rather laid-back off the field, but he has also gained notoriety over the years for having a temper on the field. He was fined 75 percent of his match fee in 2008 during an ODI against Sri Lanka at Dambulla after mouthing off at the umpire for turning down an LBW appeal. He also abused Virender Sehwag in a Delhi vs Rest of World Irani Trophy match a few months later. He also had an altercation with Amit Mishra during an IPL match, and later made indecent gestures at Nitin Saini, also during an IPL match.

 

9.  Married life

Munaf got engaged to Taslima, a girl from his native village of Ikhar in 2009. The couple tied the knot in 2010.

 

10.  Laurels in the closet

Though he might not go down in history as one of India’s all-time greats, Munaf’s trophy cupboard is an impressive one. He was a part of two World Cup squads — in 2007 and 2011 — and played a large role in helping India win the 2011 World Cup. He also has two IPL Trophies to his name, once each in 2008 (with Rajasthan Royals) and 2013 (with Mumbai Indians).

 

(Shiamak Unwalla is a proud Whovian and all-round geek who also dabbles in cricket writing as a reporter with CricketCountry. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)

 

 

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