From manning “Kolkata Traffic”, farmer’s son Garani is now India’s throwdown expert

Manning the snarling traffic on a busy Kolkata street as a Civic Police Volunteer, the thought of standing 22 yards apart of Virat Kohli mustn’t have crossed 20-something Dayananda Garani’s mind.

But as he entered the Indian cricket team’s bio-bubble in Dubai as the throwdown expert cum masseuse for the upcoming tour of Australia, the 28-year-old Garani now firmly believes that dreams do come true.

His cricket career didn’t take off like zillions of others in this country but wearing an India uniform and helping the Kohlis and Cheteshwar Pujaras prepare for their big test Down Under is no mean feat.

The farmer’s son from remote Jamatiya village in East Midnapore district’s Kolaghat area realises that.

“I was stunned, it took some time to realise it and when I conveyed this to my father on phone, he was ‘speechless’ and blessed me,” an emotional Garani told PTI from Dubai.

He was working with the Kings XI Punjab in the IPL and just before he was set to head back to India following their team’s exit, the call from BCCI came that he was going to Australia as regular throwdown expert Raghavendra (known as Raghu) is down with COVID-19.

“All my life, I’ve dreamt of serving the country and this is the opportunity. I never thought this would come so soon. They must have seen something in me during the IPL — it’s really been the turning point,” Garani said.

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The rigours of international cricket will be an altogether different challenge from the IPL but for someone who has been a ‘Green Police’, beating the odds is no big deal.

“I’m ready to sacrifice everything for this new challenge,” Garani, who will throw down to the likes of Kohli and Co, said.

Bowling with the side-arm at speeds of 140kph-plus continuously for close to three hours can be a tough job but Garani is all excited.

“I was a gymnast during my childhood days and always strong physically. Be it a bouncer, yorker and a full length delivery, whatever the batsman wants I’m ready for it.”

It’s a been a whirlwind journey for a small-time club cricketer, who could not even afford to buy white flannels or purchase a bus ticket from Kolaghat to Kolkata at one point in time.

A medium pace bowler, once he got some useful tips from Ashok Dinda and Wriddhiman Saha, reputed Bengal players back then in 2007-08, who had come for inauguration of a tournament in Kolaghat.

“Dr Malay Pal sir and Koushik Bhowmik Sir of Kolaghat CC 80 helped me a lot. They took care of my financial needs as I came to play in Kolkata,” recalled Garani, who played for Baranagar Sporting Club and White Border Sporting Union before joining Kolkata Police in 2013.

He represented Kolkata Police in first division matches and also did duty for them as a ‘Green Police’.

But age was catching up and there was not much progress to his cricketing aspirations as Debraj Nahata of Kolkata Police suggested him to do some fitness training and masseur courses.

He got in touch with Bengal trainer Sanjib ‘Haru’ Das and later joined Andhra Ranji Team in 2016, where he mastered the art of throwdown with the likes of Test player Hanuma Vihari and former India U-19 skipper Ricky Bhui facing him.

Punjab coach Munish Bali had apparently seen him during his visit to Andhra and recommended his name for KXIP.

“Life has taken a new turn since then and then I got a chance to work in the IPL in UAE,” the 28-year-old said, profusely thanking Dr Pal and Bhowmik of ‘Kolaghat CC 80’.

“It’s really a proud moment for my family and people in our village. Nobody has come close to this.

“But I will always stay grounded and will not shy away from joining my father at the farmland when I’m home.”

Sharing the dressing room with the likes of KL Rahul, Chris Gayle and Anil Kumble has been a revelation for the Garani.

“There are a lot of pleasant memories from the IPL. It was a wonderful experience and everyone liked my work and said keep ‘working hard’,” he signed off.