Representing the national team of any country can be a daunting task, but some players manage to carry the weight of their team on their shoulders with aplomb. 27-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Smit Patel was one such player after playing a key role in guiding India’s Under-19 team to the ultimate cricketing trophy at the youth level in 2012.
Patel has the special distinction of being the player to score the winnings runs in the tournament. After the Men in Blue slipped from 75-1 to 97-4, Smit scored an unbeaten 62 runs and helped his team secure World Cup glory against an Aussie side which had the likes of Travis Head, Cameron Bancroft, and Ashton Turner at the Tony Ireland Stadium in Australia. Patel and skipper Unmukt Chand shared an unbroken 130-run stand for the fifth wicket to lead their team to the trophy.
“I have dreamt of playing the World Cup from my early days. I have watched all the World Cup matches from the start to the end and I used to think that I want to play the World Cup for my country as well, and hopefully also score the winning runs. And then I was fortunate enough to do that in 2012. I was lucky to be there on the wicket at that time, to be scoring the last runs for my team, and I hope to do the same for the senior men's World Cup as well,” Smit Patel gushed while in conversation with SportsAdda, reminiscing about that final in 2012.
In December that same year, Patel made his debut first-class century in only his fifth game, leading a strong Gujarat batting unit against Hyderabad at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Valsad. During his time as a professional cricketer, he has also represented West Zone, India Red, Tripura, India Blue, Presidents XI and Goa. He was the leading run-scorer for Tripura in the 2017–18 Ranji Trophy, with 526 runs in six matches.
On his transition from a bowler to a wicketkeeper
I think I would say it was very smooth because my father and my grandfather were wicketkeeper-batsman as well but I actually started my career as a medium-fast bowler. But my coach soon understood that I wouldn't do much good as a bowler, so that that’s why I made the change.
On playing for Goa and scoring a double-century
When I joined Goa, all my teammates were very welcoming. We were all of the same age so we connected very well. I was always in good space of mind whenever I used to go for practice, training or even to play a match, so that helped build up my game.
I didn't score too many runs in the first three games. I picked up the pace in the fourth game and started scoring some big runs. The double-hundred in the last league game was the icing on the cake. It meant a lot because of me I was hitting the ball so nicely on that day.
I started with a boundary and from there, I kept hitting and played some breathtaking shots that day. That match was very crucial for us to qualify. So, we had to have a positive mindset which led me to keep scoring runs.
Playing with India’s pace icon Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit is an amazing guy. He's always into fun conversations. I played with him during the 2010 or 2011 season, I think. He didn't get a chance in the Under-19 one-day team as we were already playing with two fast bowlers. But after seeing him playing in the nets, I always thought he had something extra in his bowling because I know when I was batting in those nets, he was hitting everyone in the toes or the head.
During that time, everyone loved him. So that's how his career started. We still keep in touch on social media whenever we can.
On facing West Indies for the President’s XI
I got the opportunity to play this game which was in Baroda. It was a really nice experience because I had played in other domestic tournaments before but playing in the President’s XI was a totally different experience for me. I was playing against the full West Indies team. They were playing with all the fast bowlers, spinners, etcetera, so it was an amazing experience to play against such international stars.
Unfortunately, I got out at 23 or 24 but I kept really well. I'm pretty sure that when I play at that level again, I'll definitely do better than that.
Training sessions during the offseason and future prospects
I've been working very hard, especially during practice sessions during the offseason and I've been working very hard on my training for the last three, four years, and I'm definitely seeing the results. Now my performance speaks for itself. I've been putting hard work I'm getting some success already. I'm dedicated to working hard every day and pretty confident that I will make it big.
On getting snubbed for the Indian Premier League
For me, in cricket, we face disappointments every day. When you get out, you get beaten or miss the ball, you get disappointed in yourself. So basically, it's an everyday thing for me. I have to get up and keep working harder for myself. I've always achieved things when I've worked harder and harder consistently over a period of time, so now that's what I think that I have to do, you know, keep working harder. And through these performances, I will definitely get my chances.
On the recently concluded season with the Goa team
It feels really amazing and satisfying. At the end of the season, you want that your team does good and you want contributions in those games to be significant because that gives you immense satisfaction as you were out there fighting for your team. It's been an amazing season for me and for the Goa team as well.
On all the positive messages from his fans on social media
Sometimes you need this, to get back up when things are not going well. It's amazing to read all the messages and all the love from all the supporters. I feel very lucky that I am at this position that people love me so much.