India to England via Dombivli – Ravindra Sante Special

indian physically challenged team

In India, cricket is the first priory. Though it is Test
cricket, limited over cricket or even gully cricket. Crowd not just loves men’s
cricket; they love everyone who plays cricket.

Indian cricket fans will never forget 2019. It was a mix and
match year for cricket fans. First, in July India’s men’s team who was the main
contender to lift the World Cup was beaten by New Zealand in the fascinating
semi-final. And next month India’s Physically challenged team won the first-ever
Physical Disability World Series by beating host England by 36 runs. And the
hero of the prestigious trophy was none other than Dombivli’s Ravindra Gopinath
Sante. A player who started his career as a Gramin tennis cricket playing for
his village Kolegoan shone in the World Series with a man of the match in final
against England.

When he was eight months old, an injection given by a local
doctor had created complications. It took a while for his family to realize that
problem. To tell you, his right hand is paralyzed. At those times, a doctor had
suggested cutting his right hand but family opposes.

At an early age, he started playing tennis ball cricket for
his village. There were no intentions for playing leather cricket at that time.
Like other village fellows, he began playing tennis ball cricket. After some time,
he heard from somewhere that cricket also being played by a physically
challenged cricketer. Somehow he got connected to Virar based club under the
observation coaches like Vivek Kadam, Bharat Mistry, and Pagdare and the journey
to England started from there.

Being a handicap since childhood, challenges were everywhere.
Though it is in school or in his village. But he never let himself down. The
will power made him a hard-working guy and his hard work pays off. He used to wake
up at 4:30 early in the morning and used to catch 5:45 AM early morning train
to Virar just for coaching. After practicing in the club he used to catch the
same train during his return journey home. A toll Naka employee had the provision
to work as per his convenience to pursue his cricket coaching and he didn’t
forget to mention Katai’s Arjun Patil’s name during his journey. Arjun Patil
gave him a free-hand during his tenure as a toll Naka employee compared to
other employees.

His family, especially dad helps him a lot in his cricketing
career. Father Gopinath Sante never forced anything to his handicapped son.
Ravindra was fairly good in his studies and that impresses his dad. Playing a
tennis ball cricket, with his outstanding performances, he began gaining
popularity in nearby locality and that helped his father to focus his son’s
cricketing career. In Gramin tennis cricket, if you play well, you will be a
hero, if you are in bad form, you will be disappeared. That ticks his mind and
he started focusing more on leather cricket. But he continues playing tennis
ball cricket as it helped him to prepare for outstation tours for Maharashtra
side and for the national side.

On national duty, Ravindra waited for his turn during
Pakistan’s tour to India in 2014. He didn’t get any chance in that series. But
South Africa tour made him a fixed member of the Indian dressing room. His
35-ball 103 in the fifth of six-match series was the turning point in his
career. Being a medium pacer bowler, he hot hands-on bat in the middle order
and he made most of it.

“I never thought I will play for India. Just for my passion,
I started playing cricket in my village and then in college but playing for
India was not even in dreams,” He mentions with curiosity. “With God’s
blessings and family support, I am today what I am. I remember back in 2012
playing a local tennis ball cricket tournament in Dombivli, all the match prize
was declared to donate for physically handicapped and cancer patients. Then
Dombivli corporator Vikas Mhatre had organized that tournament. Commentator
Prasad Parab requested organizers for an exhibition match between handicapped
players. Ravi Patil then introduced me to the Virar club for the next stint. I
performed well in that exhibition match. And from that point, my leather
cricket journey started. To be honest, nobody asked me a single penny there in
Virar for coaching. From kit to ball Ravi Patil provided me everything for my
dream. I never thought I’ll play for India.” Sante says this with a smile on
his face.

Youth
should focus on leather cricket along with tennis ball cricket

Unlike leather cricket, tennis ball cricket is not an
authorized sport by government authority. During his conversation, he suggested
youth to focus on leather cricket for a career perspective. After some age, you
may find it difficult to survive. He gave an example of an ex-tennis ball
cricketer who is driving auto-rickshaw for his living. The message is simple.
Either be an extra-ordinary player like Sumeet Dhekale, Krishna Satpute, Yogesh
Penkar, etc who are playing tennis ball cricket all over the world or try out
yourself in leather cricket. There are some players who balance their
cricketing career in their corporate life, leather cricket and tennis ball
cricket. To name a few; Ankur Singh, Dhekale, Yogesh Pawar.

Gramin
tennis cricket association brought discipline

“If you compare the era before Gramin tennis cricket association
and now, you will find so much difference. The discipline required in the Gramin
tennis cricket has been brought by this association. This is good for tennis
ball cricket and youth must take advantage of it. Pramod Mhatre, Vinod Patil
took initiative and everything rocked from then.” He told.

Vinod dada helped me a lot during World Series

Vindo Patil felicitates Ravindra Sante

When Sante was named in first-ever Physical Disability World
Series 2019 there was a lack of funds to buy a fresh kit. The matches were
being played in England. He requested help from Gramin tennis cricket
association president Vinod Patil and Vinod dada without any further due
offered help to Sante. Vinod dada helped to buy the best quality kits and
Ravindra bought trophy to home.

Fitness is
key for any athlete

There have been cases tennis ball cricket players suffering
serious injuries even death in cases due to improper diet and lack of fitness.
On being asked, Sante said, “Youth should focus on their fitness along with the
game. If you ignore fitness it will be very tough for you to play under the
sun. Gramin tennis cricket is being played all day and night and young players
are ignoring their diet and fitness. Like leather cricketers, young generation
cricketers should carry instant energy well and drink with them while
traveling.”

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