When your father is a Mumbai Cricketer who has played with prominent cricketers, there is obviously a pressure to work on the footsteps of your idol who also happens to be your coach. That’s exactly the case with left-handed batting all-rounder from Mumbai Parag Khanapurkar.
Parag was just 3yrs old when he touched the cricket bat and from the age of 9 he started practicing and playing hardball cricket. Born in Karnataka, Dharwad, 32yr old Parag was born and brought up in Mumbai while Children’s Academy was his 1st school. Parag later went to IES VN Sule which is known for its strong cricketing background, it was in IES he got to play Harris and Giles Shield tournaments alongside some really good players.
Though it has been his father who has coached him his entire life, since the last 7yrs, Parag is getting trained with Umesh Patwal sir who is the International Coach of Nepal Cricket Team. Parag believes, Umesh Sir is not only a great coach, he has also been a great friend and a mentor. Parag also mentioned the names of Sanjay Gaitonde and Bhimesh Shah who have been helpful to him during his age group & club cricket days. Parag who is currently playing Club Cricket in England is also thankful to Jayesh Kansara who has assisted him in his England sojourn.
When we insisted him to share his struggles or the mindset he developed over the years, this is what Parag shared “Sports is never easy for anyone until you understand it is a very funny thing that people say that sports will always make you happy, it will always give you success but I think sports is not that easy. For me sports was difficult because my dad always had expectations from me to become a big cricketer and it was very difficult for me to cope with it mentally. It took time for me to come out of it, but later on I managed to understand that it’s all about enjoying your sports, enjoying your challenges. If you don’t enjoy the challenges you won’t reach your goal. Struggle is challenge in life for me, the more you take it the better you become, so for me it was always more of a mental struggle than financial struggle”
Parag has been playing for Payyade Sports Club in MCA Tournaments while he represented Sobo Supersonics & Shivaji Park Youngsters in T20 Mumbai. The other clubs he has played for is New Amrit cc, Mumbai Customs & a few other clubs across corporate and professional tournaments. However, he is now a senior player of Payyade since it’s almost a decade that he is representing the Payyade Sports Club team. Being a senior player comes with its own responsibilities, hence is also the captain of the Payyade Team.
Some of the highlights of Parag’s Career-
-When he got selected for Mumbai One Dayers (List A) in the knockout stages vs Punjab at Motera in 2012.
– On February 2012, Parag scored 123 on his debut game where he was playing alongside experienced players like Wasim Jaffer, Ajit Agarkar, Rohit Sharma, Usman Malvi, Aditya Tare, Iqbal Abdullah amongst others.
-Played Mumbai University, MCA Colts vs Zimbabwe
– Was amongst the top all-rounders as he scored 550 runs alongwith 30 wkts in the 2012-13 season of Times Shield B Div.
– Was adjudged the “Best Batsman” in Police Shield in 2017
– Parag has scored 638 runs with 4 half centuries, 22 sixes at a strike rate of 130.00+ alongwith 16 wkts in T20 Mumbai in 24 games across all seasons so far.
Parag who has played Ranji T20 earlier is currently employed with Mumbai Customs. Parag also represents the A Div Mumbai Customs Team in Times Shield. His aim is to make it into the Ranji Trophy team as he shared with us “I was a part of the team in 2012-13 and without making my debut I was being taken off from the team so I think that would be my greatest aim right now and of course playing IPL is a dream as well for any cricketer. The only question now I have is, is Cricket only about having youngsters or is there a place for experienced players who are fit to play?
When we asked him to elaborate further Parag said- “One more thing specially for leg spin bowlers. We need good captains to back them. There are no captains who back leg spinners. If you get hit, you are out, no one gets back then. Belief level is important for leg spinner especially from captain and some coaches. Despite leg spinners being match winners, there is not a single leg-spinner in our Mumbai team and its time to breed them and back them up”
When we asked him on what aspects he is working on during off season, Parag said- I don’t think there is any such thing as technique. It is only the skill and ability to score runs. The basic skill everybody needs to have is cut, pulls, sweep, drives and step out drives. I think these are the skills I always practice no matter what. It’s all about the process and not about the runs you score or the wickets you take. Just like how you upgrade your mobile, always keep upgrading yourself because it’s really important!
It was a really interesting conversation with Parag as we saw the fire in him to perform, his passion to play at the highest level and we wish him all the luck for a great career ahead.