A phone call and 2000kms journey – How Saiju Titus made his incredible Puducherry debut in List A cricket

By: | Published: September 22, 2018 3:12 PM

The phone call was to change his time over the next few hours, which actually happened through the unimaginative journey that he ‘planned’ in his life.

Saiju owns a sports shop next to the Palmyra cricket ground in Puducherry. (Express photo)

What is called a dream come true? Well, the right man to answer this at this moment would be Saiju Titus, who received a phone call from the Cricket Association of Pondicherry (CAP) and what happened next is itself memorable. Saiju owns a sports shop next to the Palmyra cricket ground in Puducherry. It was a normal day for the 36-year-old man, who was preparing to leave for his shop. The phone call was to change his time over the next few hours, which actually happened through the unimaginative journey that he ‘planned’ in his life.

The CAP call wanted him to immediately travel to Baroda. Saiju was not the only weekend cricketer in Puducherry to attend to a life-altering phone call on Thursday morning. Five others, Vikneshwar Sivasangar, Saju Chothan, AM Narayanan, Magendiran Chinnadurai and Ranjit Baskaran were also in the similar situation. It was more or less the same story with most of the crew members who accompanied him to Baroda. While some of them own their own businesses, others have had to apply for eleventh-hour leaves at their offices, the Indian Express reported.

The unprecedented fast-tracked journey to play as a List A, debut at the Lal Bahadur Shastri ground in Anand, was not easy for them. They all flew from Puducherry to Bengaluru, nearly missed the Mumbai flight. Then they travelled to Baroda from Mumbai by a taxi. The soon-to-be List-A cricketers left for Baroda at around 8 pm and finally concluded their nearly 2000-km-long journey at 2.30 am. Soon after, they were on a bus to the venue in Anand, where Saiju, Baskaran and Narayanan were handed their maiden caps.

“I didn’t know I was going to play. We reached the ground and the coach told me I was in. I was very, very nervous. I just did some warm-ups and got ready,” Saiju told IE.

The right-handed batsman was in the fruit distribution business. His passion for the sport was such that he continued to play cricket on the side by forming teams and registering them for local competitions in Tamil Nadu. He even played for Palmyra Club every Sunday during the season, and travelled with them for tournaments outside the town. Like Saiju, others were also involved with cricket on the side over the years, and incidentally were part of the 25-player probables list announced by the CAP. None of them made the cut owing to the host of outstation players coming in.

Saiju batted at No.7 in Pondicherry’s run-chase and hung around for 24 balls for his 10, but Friday was barely about numbers and stats, it was a day where his ‘kanavu nenava agirathu (A dream has come true in Tamil).’

Certainly, the Vijay Hazare Trophy match, has become a dream come true, as Saiju himself said that when he told his wife about the plan to leave for Baroda, she was as shocked as he was.

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