35-year-old Parthiv Patel was just 17 when he made his India debut in the August of 2002. Months after leading the India Under-19 World Cup team, Parthiv was fast-tracked to join the big boys of Indian cricket. The Gujarat batsman had not played a single Ranji Trophy match when he made his debut against England in Nottingham.
Parthiv Patel made good strides in the initial days of his career and was considered as the number one choice for wicketkeeper-batsman slot in the Test format. But a string of low performances, especially with the gloves saw him losing his place in the side. Ironically, Parthiv Patel lost his place in the team at the age when players normally make their debut.
Well, they rightly say that somethings are not in our hand, believers in destiny call it fate. MS Dhoni came in the pictures almost 14 months after Parthiv Patel's lost his place in 2004. MS Dhoni as they all say was not a prolific wicketkeeper back then and neither was his batting style conventional but again it's all fate and destiny. India got an attacking wicketkeeper-batsman for the first time ever in their cricketing history.
Dhoni, the hard worker capitalised on the opportunity and made sure that not a single mistake was done from his end. The Ranchi-born picked the brains of best in the business by observing them, analysing them and just 2 years later he was leading the national team in the inaugural T20 World Cup.
Pundits opine that doors for wicketkeepers-batsmen like Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik was closed the day when Dhoni's sheer brilliance arrived in Sourav Ganguly's dressing room. Dinesh Karthik had earlier said that he lost his place to a "special cricketer" and held himself responsible for his ouster back then. Now, Parthiv Patel has talked on similar lines and called it wrong to blame 'MS Dhoni's era' for his short international career.
Parthiv Patel said he debuted ahead of Dhoni and his place in the squad would have been secure if it was not for his poor performances. The Gujarat captain added that he is not someone who seek such sympathies.
"Many people said me that I was born in a wrong era and that it was Dhoni's era but I have told it before also that I made my India debut before MS Dhoni. It will be wrong if I seek sympathy by saying that my career was shortened because of MS Dhoni's presence. I think my performance was not up to the mark and that is why others got chance. Dinesh Karthik got it first and then MS Dhoni. If I was doing well then nobody could have replaced me. I have never seek that sympathy of not playing for long because I was born in Dhoni's era," Parthiv Patel told former India opener Aakash Chopra.
Parthiv Patel also revealed his heartbreaking story consisting of fear and self-doubt. Parthiv Patel said the criticisms by former cricketers in their write up about him had shattered him after he got dropped in 2004. Parthiv added that he was scared of even catching a tennis ball and went back to play with Under-16 boys to gain back confidence and his love for cricket. The statement's are heartbreaking because a player who made his debut for India at 17 was scared of a soft tennis ball. Uncontrolled manner of criticisms definitely takes a toll on the victim.
"I was scared when I got dropped. I used to think I will not be able to catch even a tennis ball because many former cricketers and journalists were writing a lot of things about me and I read all of them. That brought a sense of fear in me and I was scared. Then I started playing cricket with Under-16 guys just to get back my confidence, I used to bat and keep with them just to see if I can play cricket again or not. I started from zero after getting dropped in 2004. When I started enjoying I made a promise to myself that I will enjoy my cricket at whatever level I play at, whether it's district or club matches," Parthiv Patel recalled.
Confidence and hardwork definitely pays, though not a regular member of the Indian squad, Parthiv Patel has made comebacks time and again. Parthiv bounced back to the Test squad in 2008, then he returned after 8 years again in 2016 and the last time he made his presence felt in the Indian dressing room was in 2018 during the South Africa tour.