Kishori Lal dreamt of seeing his son Ravi Varma playing international cricket a dream that seemed to have died when Ravi was forced to give up cricket and move to Abu Dhabi for a job. Now,four years after he moved,he has been named among the United Arab Emirates 43 probables for the 2011 World Cup qualifiers.
The news of Ravis selection has got people pouring in to congratulate his parents. Kishori Lal,who runs a cycle repair shop,and mother Bimla Rani have been distributing sweets at their small Dadumajra Colony house. Ravi has seen tough times, his father recalls,there were times when he would cry at not being picked for teams in Chandigarh. But he never gave up. I feel so proud to even think that my son could actually play in a World Cup.
A middle-order batsman,Ravi played for several teams in Mohali,Chandigarh and Himachal Pradesh but could not do much to further his case at the higher levels with any state team. He could barely manage club and college cricket while in Chandigarh and the future looked bleak. He played club cricket for the local LIC Club and it was the club secretary,Deepinder Singh Chabbra,who helped the 27-year-old a job in Abu Dhabi.
When The Indian Express contacted Ravi in Abu Dhabi,the sense of excitement was evident in his voice even over phone. I am happy that I have been selected in the probables list. I used to dream of donning a Team India cap,but now I want to represent UAE and take them to the next World Cup.
When I arrived in Abu Dhabi,I had nothing with me. I started playing in a B-Division Trophy but graduated to the A-Division,which is equal to the Ranji Trophy,after just one year. Thats when I caught the attention of the Emirates selectors and they encouraged me. Without Deepinder paaji,I would not have been here. He has given me a reason to live and realise my dream.
Ravi is currently attending a three-month fitness camp at the Sharjah Club in Sharjah. The 2011 World Cup qualifying matches are scheduled to be held in South Africa from April 1 and the top four nations will qualify for the 2011 World Cup. UAE last played in a cricket World Cup in 1996.