Through those years, he had no idea that he would one day sign an IPL contract himself. That too at an age when most other cricketers are on their way out of the game. Now, approaching 42, he has hogged the limelight in the Champions League T20. In Rajasthan’s semifinal against Chennai, the leg spinner took the wickets of Suresh Raina, Subramaniam Badrinath and Dwayne Bravo.
“I still have photos with all Mumbai Indians players,” he says. “There was a time when I used to request to get photo clicked with players and now I’m here sharing a dressing room with an IPL team.”
It all clicked for Tambe after he found a place in Mumbai one-day squad last year after his performances for DY Patil in club cricket. He didn’t get to play a game, but his name came to Rajasthan’s notice.
“I knew that I could do well but there was a lack of confidence. Jamie (Faulkner) has been a great help. See, I didn’t have any idea of how to succeed at this level because I had never played higher-level cricket before. So talking to each of these players, I’m trying to improve myself,” Tambe says.
Rahul Dravid, meanwhile, gave Tambe full freedom to choose his end and set his fields. “I was surprised that Rahul bhai didn’t know my age until it was in the papers,” he says. “He came and told me ‘you are here because of your performance. For me age doesn’t matter. What you do on the field is more important’. He will come and ask me ‘PT, which end do you want to bowl, and what field you want?’ He gives complete freedom.”
On Sunday, Tambe will play the biggest match of his life, and a CLT20 title would make a perfect addition to his fairytale. But life afterwards, he says, will go right back to where it was before.
“It will be my same motorcycle, same helmet and the same long drive from Mulund to DY Patil Stadium. I will look for coaching assignments. I don’t know whether I will get it or not. Life will be back to normal once this CLT20 ends,” he says.