11 Jun 2024  |   07:19am IST

Why do cricket lovers lovingly “hate” Netravali’s American fast bowler Saurabh?...

...Because he’s too talented; born in Mumbai to a family from Goa, Netravalkar is making waves in the T20 World Cup for USA, but he also just happens to have a Master in Computer Science from Cornell and is a techie in Oracle; by the way, he plays the Ukulele and is a fantastic singer
Why do cricket lovers lovingly “hate” Netravali’s American fast bowler Saurabh?...


PANJIM: Netravali to Nasau. What a journey! When Saurabh Netravalkar runs up to bowl to his former country mates in the Indian cricket team at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, during their world Cup T20 game on June 12 (tomorrow), his ancestors from Netravali Goa, will reflect on the life journey of Saurabh’s grandfather Sripad Sinai Netravalkar, who migrated to Mumbai in 1941.

It is in Mumbai where Saurabh was born to Naresh Netravalkar. The young boy’s love story with cricket began in the maidans of Mumbai, wearing the India journey as an Under 19 player, and finally as the main bowler of USA, his country now. 

His Super Over against Pakistan, which caused one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history, has already entered cricketing folklore. 

But some of his folks, are still here in Goa, and are joyous at this reflected glory of a family member, who has had a dream career on the foundation of multifaceted talent - a Master in Computer Science from Cornell University, who is working as a senior software engineer in Oracle on leave to play the World Cup. 

These are credentials ordinary mortals would kill or die for. Add his talent as a ukulele player, with a fantastic voice, and his cup of riches flows over. 

As Joy Bhattacharya, former Director of IPL champion Kolkata Knight Riders, who spotted his talent as a young lad, during the initial seasons of IPL said in jest, “I hate Saurabh Netravalkar. It's not fair for one person to have so many talents. A software techie from Oracle, an alumnus of Cornel University and living his dream of playing his favourite sport for his country, (USA) in a World Cup.”

In Goa, his uncle and other family members find themselves at the centre of attention. Caranzalem-based, Adv Ashok Netravalkar, his uncle said that their hearts filled with joy and pride.

"Saurabh chose the education of his choice and also made sure that he pursued cricket while doing that. I watched his bowling spell versus Pakistan. It was amazing. Everyone known to the Netravalkar family is inquiring about Saurabh," he added. 

"He is our family member and seeing him play international cricket fills the entire family tree of Netravalkars with pride," he said. 

The Netravalkars migrated to Panjim over 300 years ago as their remote village of Netravali in Sanguem had no education or health facilities. 

However, the struggle continued as their ancestral house in Caranzalem was demolished during the Portuguese era during the spread of the plague. The family members then built separate houses in Caranzalem. 

In 1941 his grandfather Shripad Sinai Netravalkar migrated to Mumbai His son and Saurabh’s father Naresh Netravalkar grew up in Mumbai and so did Saurabh. 

In an interview, Saurabh said that it is in Mumbai that he found his love for cricket. While pursuing his studies he also played cricket. 

Saurabh found his biggest breakthrough when he played with top Indian international cricket players, Rohit Sharma and K L Rahul and was also in the playing XI of the U-19 World Cup.

When he takes the field in USA colours against the team of his roots, India, one family in Goa cannot be blamed if they root for their boy. After all, blood ties tug at heartstrings.


Iddhar Udhar