Initial indication of his penchant for brutal stroke play came in the small Kadam chawl house in Kalyan where Pranav Dhanawade, the world’s newest cricket star, lives.
“He was notorious for smashing the soft cricket ball on household items and neighbourhood window panes,” recalled his mother, Mohini Dhanawade, as she sat awestruck watching her boy rain boundaries and sixes for two days at the Union Cricket Academy Ground in the Mumbai suburb of Kalyan.
The 15-year-old became the first cricketer in the world to score 1000 runs in an innings in any form of cricket, in an under-16 match on Tuesday.
A day earlier, the lanky player passed Arthur Collins’ unbeaten 628 made in an English club match in 1899. Typical of children his age, Pranav took a liking to big shots in gully cricket matches synonymous with old school Maharashtrian localities such as the one where he grew up. At four, his father Prashant, an autorickshaw driver, decided to send him to a local academy. “One reason for putting him in an academy was to stop him from playing in the neighbourhood,” said Mohini.
Despite his limited income and his wife’s disapproval, Prashant was firm on providing formal cricket training to his son. “There are certain things you badly want and this was one such dream,” said the 50-year-old.
Mohini had concerns of cricket eating into her son’s study time. But two months from his Class 10 board exams, Pranav is confident of getting a first division. “He is an average student but that never bothered me. I have seen his strenuous training over the past 11 years,” added Prashant.
Pranav’s record innings was preceded by several quickfire cameos, much like his idol Sachin Tendulkar. “Sachin has been my role model. I also follow Virat Kohli and former Aussie keeper Brad Haddin,” he said with a shy smile.
Like his idol, Pranav too prefers a heavy bat. “While most cricketers his age are advised to use a bat weighing less than a kilo, Pranav’s bat weighs around 1200 to 1300 grams,” said Harish Sharma, his school coach.
During his monumental 1009 not out, he changed the bat just once, after crossing 300 runs, he added.
Pranav’s appetite is not restricted to powerful hitting alone, disclosed his first coach, Momin Shaikh.
“He appears lanky but can polish off a full tandoori chicken in no time,” said Shaikh, his coach for 11 years. “The boy can easily eat four-five vada-pavs at one go.”