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12 Facts about Munaf Patel: The Ikhar Express

Munaf Patel IPL
The Baroda-born Indian pacer was trolled many times for his lazy and passive fielding. (Photo Source:AFP)

Munaf Patel can one of the best examples of a cricketer overcoming poverty to make it a name for himself, playing for his country at the international level. Born in the remote village of Ikhar in Gujarat, Patel made it to the top simply due to his bowling talent he possessed. The tall, gangly right arm fast bowler was regarded as the fastest in the country during the early 2000’s. His abilities paved the way for him into the Indian team later. Unfortunately, just like in the case of most fast bowlers, injuries came to haunt his flourishing career and ultimately cut short his time at the top.

1.Born on:

Munaf Musa Patel was born on July 12, 198 in the small farming village of Ikhar, Gujarat.

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2. A worker at the marble factory:

Patel, who already had a reputation of being the fastest bowler of his village, had quit playing in the ninth standard. During vacations, the young Munaf would go to tile factories choosing the best “export-quality” tiles, packing them in boxes and going home with Rs 35 for an eight-hour shift.

3. Resists unhappy father:

Munaf Patel belonged to a poor family where his father was the only earning member. Therefore , there was always a pressure on him to join his father at work. Munaf recalls,  “I would just stay silent; my mother would tell him to let me play.” For Ikhar, a village of poor cotton farmers, Africa was the passport out of poverty. Every year, a youngster or two would land up at a friend, relative or acquaintance’s house in Zambia, Mozambique, South Africa or Zimbabwe to find work in a factory or a shop. Patel had an uncle in Zambia and so his future seemed set in stone. “You can’t blame my father. No one here really knew that cricket had this kind of scope.”

4. The ‘ehsaan’:

Munaf Patel is a man who never forgets the people who helped him become the man he is today. Patel, in an interview with Indian express, revealed that he chose cricket over a life as a worker in Africa because of a person called Yusuf bhai – well-connected person in his locality. Who took him to Baroda and got his cricket career going by enrolling him at a cricket club.

He bought me Rs 400-worth shoes, and introduced me to a cricket club. Ehsaan rahega zindagi bhar.” (Even today, whenever Yusuf comes down from UK, Munaf hops over to his house. “Kuch bhi kaam hai toh bata dena, bhai.”)

5. Gets spotted:

Former India wicket-keeper Kiran More discovered the 20-year-old Munaf in his coaching academy. Impressed by the raw pace which the young man had, More sent him to MRF Pace Foundation, Chennai.

6. Impresses legends:

His time at the MRF pace foundation was very productive for him. Patel impressed the likes of Dennis Lillee and Steve Waugh with his ability to bowl fast pitches.

7. Escapes from the playing area:

Munaf Patel, while at the academy, had a lot of communication problems.  Patel , in an interview shared an anecdote where he had just leave the practice quickly after hitting an English batsmen repeatedly with bouncers. “Gora tha (He was white), left-handed and the pitches were fast then. I bowled four-five bouncers; one hit his shoulder, one his helmet and other his gloves. He started to come towards me, saying something in English. Mujhe toh English aati nahi tab. But I see that he is angry. So I slip away quickly and dive into the swimming pool. I thought he will complain to Sir, who will throw me out of the academy!”

8. The most sought after guy:

Munaf rising reputation as the fastest bowler in India made Gujarat and Baroda Ranji team compete to make him a part of the team for. However, Munaf went for Mumbai after he was approached by Tendulkar to play for team and soon made his Ranji debut.

9. First class debut:

Munaf Patel made his first class debut against New Zealand at Rajkot in 2003. He was picked up for the India A squad. He took 3/83 and 2/22 in both the innings of the match which ended drawn.

10. Test debut:

Munaf made his debut against England at Mohali in 2006.

11. Part of two world Cup winning team:

Munaf Patel was a part of the two world cup winning teams. Patel was a part of the MS Dhoni-led team which won the inaugural 2007 T20 world Cup. Patel also played a big role in the 2011 Cricket World Cup which India had won after 28 years. He took 11 wickets in the tournament and was the third highest wicket-taker for India after Yuvraj Singh and Zaheer Khan.

12. Personal life:

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

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