Fans are angry. They even burnt KKR's principal owner Shah Rukh Khan in effigy.
Why did Kolkata Knight Riders or the nine other IPL franchisees choose not to bid for Dada? Some term it a "political conspiracy.” Others say they will boycott KKR matches in Kolkata.
Reputation did not count.
Nor did emotions.
It’s plain business.
It’s all about money, honey.
It’s not only about his being too big for the team’s comfort. It’s not about his being not fit enough alone. Let’s not get into reasons, for once. When something of this sort happens, dreams are dashed too, much beyond the immediate surroundings.
Miles away from Kolkata, Sahara, a nondescript hamlet off the Agra-Fatehpur Sikri road, must also be disappointed. In 2009, it had suddenly found a new name — ‘Pawan Sharma Ka Gaon. This happened after a class IX dropout hopped on to a crowded general compartment of a train to Howrah to meet Ganguly.
In Agra for launch then, I went all the way to his house and met Pawan. I so wanted to know the story. He told me, “I hung out outside Dada’s residence in south Kolkata’s Behala locality for days. I finally spotted him in his car and called out his name. He got down to meet me.”
“After listening to me, he asked me to join the ongoing KKR camp at the Eden Gardens. He wanted to see me bowl at the nets,” Pawan said and added, “I troubled some of the best in domestic cricket. Dada kept a close watch and liked my bowling.”
Pawan was invited for the next camp to show his prowess.
He had hopes for a possible IPL ‘look-in.’
True to his name, Pawan clocked 140 kmph — a great achievement for a youth of his age. With milk and curd his favourite food items, he left a number of local batsmen battered and bruised with his raw pace.
While admitting to the fact his story is fascinatingly akin to the critically acclaimed Bollywood movie ‘Iqbal’, the 19-year-old lanky fast bowler said, while feeding cattle at his house, “For me cricket is the only reason to live. I have harboured just one dream — playing for the national side.”
Pawan’s spirit to conquer against odds and his flight towards destiny in cricket — inarguably the most idolized sport in India — got me a couple of good stories for the launch edition. I “commercialized” the fact his four brothers were all unemployed and his father worked in a Delhi factory. He had to drop out of school because of financial constraints.
I could not keep track of his progress. Last year, I called him up. He said would tell me first if “anything” happened. I never thought of him even once, till Dada went unsold for two days.
During our meeting, a shy Pawan said, “I was straightaway made a member of the Barisa Sporting Club and also given token money for encouragement.”
Though there was no word on guarantee, Pawan says Dada hinted hard work could get him into good teams, the KKR included.
Any regret? "I could not bowl to Dada. He was overseeing the ongoing pre-season camp.”
He never would.