When the Lokmat APL was launched in 2008, I was 'flushed' with an excitement at the thought of playing in the slam-bang format. I am fortunate enough to play in all the seven editions of the APL held so far. I still remember vividly my first experience in the inaugural year. I could not believe when I was shortlisted for the auction. I was delirious with joy when Sanya United lapped me up for the mega event. I just didn't know how to react. As an under-19 cricketer, I was really excited to play alongside the best in the business. And the very thought of playing with Ranji players like Anand Dalvi and Amit Dani added to my excitement. I was under pressure when I came in to bat at No.9 position, with Sanya United needing 15 in the final over bowled by Ajanta Pharma's Dani in the title clash. I hit a six off the very first ball before the bowler had the last laugh to foil Sanya's victory bid. I learnt a lot from my first APL experience. It was also a great experience to play in front of a packed ADCA stadium something I had never witnessed before.
My decent performance impressed the organizers, who shortlisted me as an icon player for APL-2 and was later bought by Pro zone-Golden, the eventual winners. I was fortunate to play with fantastic cricketers from Mumbai like Parag Madkaikar and Ahad Malick. I was doubly delighted when I was named as the best wicketkeeper of the meet.
When the third edition of the APL was announced, I was in demand. It was Ajeet Mulay who selected me for his team Green Gold Seeds, and ever since then I have remained with them. Perhaps, I am the only cricketer who has represented a team for five years in the APL. I had a whale of a time with Green Gold Seeds during the five years. I have not seen a team owner like Ajeet
Sir, who has always supported and encouraged me. In fact, his entire family has treated me as their own family member and madeine feel at home. My joy knew no bounds when Green Gold Seeds became the APL-5 champions.
Unfortunately, we could not reach the semis in APL-7 despite having a team that was well equipped in all departments. I am very satisfied with my performance but I would have been much happier had Green Gold Seeds beached the last four stage. I didn’t get the support from the other d, as the top and middle order batsmen failed to come good. I expected young and talented Shubhani Jadhav to come up trumps, but lie disappointed me despite, getting enough chances to bat at No.3 and 4 positions. We also had enough bowling talent, but could no perform to their potential. The players' appeared a bit casual in their approach and their body language was not up to the mark, as well. Performance-wise, however, the APL-7 turned out to be fruitful for me. I felt good to score runs consistently, which helped me walk away with the best batsman award.
Full marks to the Lokmat Group for organizing the APL in a very professional manner. The matches were held smoothly and the players too played in the right spirit of the game. Lokmat Times' excellent coverage of our matches also motivated me and got the best out of me. The APL has made mc look like a hero. For me, playing Ii the APL is everything. There was a time when my parents didn't allow me to play cricket. But after seeing the way the matches were conducted in the APL, they changed their minds. Now my parents are so happy that they ash me to practice very seriously foi the APL. I will be failing in my duty if I don't thank my grandfather M.A. Rasheed, who passed away a year ago. He was the one who taught me the basic of batting. I really miss him a lot I also thank Mr Karan Darda for recommending my name for the IPL's glamour team Kolkat Knight Riders' camp in Kolkata To play at the lushgreen Eden Gardens was like a dream come true for me.Thanks to Lokmat, the API has changed the face of local cricket. If cricketers like int have a huge fan-following, it is only because of the APL.
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