Pravin Tambe, the oldest debutant in Indian T20 League history, is the latest cricketer to have a biopic based on his cricket journey.
Tambe, who last played a T20 match in the 2020 Caribbean Premier League, was 41 years old when he was signed by Team Rajasthan ahead of the 2013 edition of the Indian T20 League.
He went on to play 33 matches in the Indian T20 League, bagging 28 wickets at an economy rate of 7.75. Tambe’s last match in the Indian T20 League was in 2016 for Gujarat against Bangalore. However, it’s his unusual journey to the big stage that shows how perseverance can pay off regardless of age or any other deterrents.
A 13-year wait for a call-up to the Mumbai Ranji team
In 2000, Pravin Tambe was included in the probables list for Mumbai Ranji team but never made it. 13 years later, his hard work in Mumbai’s cricket circles earned him a maiden call-up to the state team for the four-day Group A match against Jharkhand at the Wankhede Stadium.
Tambe didn’t make it into the squad for the 2013/14 Ranji Trophy match but wouldn’t need to wait any longer as he made his much-awaited debut in the following match against Odisha. The spinner would end the match with figures of two for 127.
His second and final First-class match would come next against Gujarat, where he returned wicketless for 61 runs.
Rajasthan sign Pravin Tambe
In 2013, a Rahul Dravid-led Team Rajasthan recruited a then-41-year-old Pravin Tambe who had never played a competitive match for Mumbai or Maharashtra.
He made his debut for Rajasthan against Delhi in May 2013 and conceded 30 runs in his four-over spell. It was in his second game that he grabbed his maiden Indian T20 League wicket against Mumbai.
Leading wicket-taker in 2013 Champions League T20
The first of Tambe’s most fondly remembered performances in a Rajasthan shirt was in the 2013 Champions League T20 when he picked 12 wickets in five matches.
The spinner’s best performance of 4/15 came in the opening game against South Africa’s Lions team. His exploits in the tournament earned Tambe the ‘Golden Wicket award’. His Champions League heroics were just one of many cherishable memories the 40-plus-year-old rookie gave cricket fans after bursting onto the scene.
A two-ball hat-trick
Just like his introduction to top level cricket, Tambe would go on to script more unusual history soon after as he became the second bowler in the Indian T20 League to take a hat-trick with two legal deliveries following a stumping off a wide for his first scalp.
The spinner, who came on to bowl the 16th over against Kolkata in the 2014 Indian T20 League, bowled a googly that beat an advancing Manish Pandey who would be stumped by Sanju Samson. It was adjudged wide but the wicket dismissal stayed.
On his first two legal deliveries, Tambe dismissed all-rounders Yusuf Pathan and Ryan ten Doeschate for golden ducks as Rajasthan reduced Kolkata to 122/6 within 15.2 overs.
Tambe ended the Indian T20 League 2014 season with 15 wickets in 13 matches - his best performance ever in the competition.
A maiden List A outing
Three years on from his Ranji Trophy debut, Pravin Tambe would be handed his Vijay Hazare Trophy debut against Gujarat in 2017.
Taking on Parthiv Patel’s Gujarat team, Tambe scalped two wickets for 34 runs in his 10-over spell as he inspired Mumbai to a 98-run victory.
Going forward, he would play another five List A matches and register five wickets in his short-lived career.
Ban over T10 League participation
Between 2018 and 2019, Pravin Tambe was involved in the Abu Dhabi T10 League and that spurred the BCCI to ban him from participating in the Indian T20 League henceforth.
As per the BCCI guidelines, only retired cricketers are allowed to participate in other leagues organized by other cricket boards.
In the case of Tambe, he reportedly had told the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) about his decision to retire in 2018 and went on to play the T10 League.
The spinner scripted history as he became the first-ever T10 league player to pick up a hat-trick. With Chris Gayle among his victims, Tambe ended with a five-wicket haul for the Sindhis against Kerala Knights. He ended the 2018 T10 League campaign with eight wickets in four matches.
In 2019, Pravin Tambe withdrew his retirement and featured in the T20 Mumbai competition. Furthermore, Tambe listed himself for the 2020 Indian T20 League auction.
While he became the oldest player to be picked up by a franchise at an Indian T20 League, with Kolkata buying the veteran spinner for INR 20 Lakh, Tambe would be barred from any cricket activity in the cash-rich tournament.
A historic CPL debut
Ahead of the 2020 Caribbean Premier League auction, Tambe threw his name into the hat and would later be picked up by Trinbago Knight Riders.
#TKR #CPLDraft ⚡️— Trinbago Knight Riders (@TKRiders) July 6, 2020
Join us in welcoming #PravinTambe to our #CPL2020 squad. He brings truckloads of experience and a bag full of tricks to our ranks all the way from #India! ❤️#TrinbagoKnightRiders @CPL #Cricket #CPL20 #CricketPlayedLouder pic.twitter.com/y9640bL5ZG
It didn’t take long for the Mumbai spinner to write his name into the CPL record books as he took his maiden wicket in the final ball of his very first over on debut against St Lucia Zouks.
In doing so, Pravin Tambe (48) became the oldest cricketer to scalp a wicket in T20 cricket beating the previous record held by Brad Hogg (46 years).
Author: William Paul
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Featured photo: Twitter / Rajasthan Royals