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18 yrs later, USA all-rounder aims for reunion with Rohit, Jadeja

1 month ago 252

NEW DELHI: USA all-rounder

Nisarg Patel

was a mere 18 years old when he travelled to Sri Lanka for the Under-19 World Cup in 2006. The tournament had prominent players from various nations, including the likes of current Indian captain

Rohit Sharma

and star all-rounder

Ravindra Jadeja

.
The USA team, placed in Group B with Australia, the West Indies, and South Africa, played three matches but unfortunately lost all of them, leading to an early exit from the tournament.

T20 World Cup Schedule | Points Table
Despite the disappointing outcome, Nisarg had the opportunity to meet the entire Indian squad, exchanging greetings with Rohit and Jadeja before returning to the United States.
Now, 18 years later, Nisarg, who is part of the senior USA team, is eagerly anticipating a reunion with Rohit and Jadeja.

India and the USA are set to face off in their ICC

T20 World Cup

2024 match at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on Wednesday.
With two wins in two matches, India are well placed to make the Super Eights, while the USA will have to win one of the two remaining matches - vs India or Ireland - to move to the next stage of the mega event.

TimesofIndia.com caught up with Nisarg, who played 41 ODIs and 21 T20Is for the USA so far and spoke about meeting young Rohit and Jadeja during the U-19 World Cup, cricket in the US, drop-in pitches, clash against India, and much more...

1

The USA's performance in the T20 World Cup has been remarkable...
We are very excited. We have a big opportunity to represent the US on such a grand stage. There's nothing bigger for players than representing their country in the World Cup, and we are doing just that. We have the chance to play against big teams - Pakistan and now India. We have played against Ireland many times and also against Canada. But this is a different experience altogether. This is special for us.
How does cricket's popularity fare in the USA, a nation renowned for its passion for NBA, Baseball, and NFL?
People have come in huge numbers to witness our matches. There is a lot of buzz. It is an opportunity to bring the whole community together. As players, we just want to go and play cricket and enjoy every moment. That's it. It's the first time we have got the opportunity to play in such a big event like this, and we are giving our best. All I want to say is that we all (the US team) are enjoying our cricket. US cricket is doing really well.

Nisarg

USA all-rounder Nisarg Patel (AFP Photo)

After defeating Pakistan, the USA's upcoming match is against India. Do you have your sights set on any specific Indian player's wicket?
I don't specifically target players. As a player, I love to contribute to my team's victory. It's a very short format game. Whether it's keeping it tight, bowling good overs, taking crucial wickets, putting brakes on runs, scoring runs, inflicting runouts, or keeping a batsman in check, I just love it. Obviously, I'd love to dismiss Virat Kohli or take Rohit's wicket. But it all depends on when I'll be bowling - in the Powerplay or after. I thrive in all situations. I met and interacted with Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja during the 2006 U19 World Cup and now look forward to meeting them again.
Could you highlight two pivotal players from the Indian squad?
Rohit Sharma. He can perform anywhere. And in bowling, none other than Bumrah. Give him any condition or situation, he will take wickets and win you the match. He's that type of player.

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Your India connection?
My cricketing journey started in India. I was born in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, and studied in a boarding school in Vapi. I played most of my cricket in Ahmedabad before relocating to the US in 2003. I began playing cricket in the US and received my first major opportunity to represent the USA in the Under-19 World Cup in Sri Lanka in 2006. I had the chance to compete against teams like Australia and South Africa, facing players such as David Warner, Aaron Finch, Matthew Wade, and many more. During the World Cup, I had the privilege of meeting and interacting with Rohit Sharma and Ravindra Jadeja as well. Experiencing international cricket at such a young age was invaluable. Subsequently, I was selected for the senior USA team and have since played around 70-80 matches for them. I aspire to continue representing the USA team for as long as possible.
Who is your inspiration and why?
I started playing during the era of

Sachin Tendulkar

, Sourav Ganguly, and Rahul Dravid. Initially, I admired Dada (Ganguly). He was my inspiration and a true leader. As time passed, I witnessed the era of players like MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, and Virat Kohli. I greatly admire MS Dhoni. I appreciate the way he conducts himself on and off the field, how he handles players, and his ability to turn matches with his batting prowess. He is simply amazing and incredibly down-to-earth. He has contributed immensely to cricket.
In cricket, being an all-rounder, I look up to Ravindra Jadeja. I play a similar role to him, being a left-arm spinner and a middle-order batsman. I closely watch and follow his game. I am eagerly looking forward to meeting him.

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Could you share insights from your meeting with batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar and the legendary Shane Warne?
When the Legends Masters League took place in the USA, the great Shane Warne and the legendary Sachin Tendulkar were part of that league. We had the opportunity to meet them and learn valuable cricket lessons. I served as a net bowler in that league, bowling to the likes of Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden, and many other legendary players. I learned a lot from their experiences.
What are your thoughts on the drop-in pitches?
I've never played on drop-in pitches before. This is our first time. All I've heard is that they are true wickets. They benefit everyone—spinners, fast bowlers, batsmen. All we've heard is that these are true wickets and really exciting ones.
Were the USA confident of causing upsets against major teams, similar to their performance against Pakistan?
We were confident, especially with the team we have. We are a balanced side with experienced players who can perform under any situation and condition. They can handle pressure and win us games. It's not easy to perform on a big stage, especially in front of a jam-packed stadium, but our team knows how to handle it. They know how to perform in any situation.

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