Ranji Trophy 2021-22 – Baroda’s Vishnu Solanki plays on despite death of his daughter and father


Heartbroken batter wants to stay with the team and play their final Ranji Trophy league match on March 3

Baroda batter Vishnu Solanki has decided to carry on playing the Ranji Trophy despite the heartbreaking loss of his father and his day-old daughter in a span of two weeks.
On February 11, while in quarantine in Cuttack with the rest of Baroda squad, Solanki received the news that his wife had given birth to a girl. Being a first-time parent Solanki, 29, was ecstatic. The batter had made headlines in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy when he hit 16 runs off the final three balls of the quarter-final to stun Haryana in a photo finish. He was ready for the Ranji Trophy, which had returned after a hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, on February 12, Solanki was woken up close to midnight by the Baroda team manager Dharmendra Arothe, who told the player that his day-old daughter had died. The next day, a distraught Solanki packed his bags and flew back home. He missed Baroda’s first match of league phase, against Bengal, which was played between February 16 and 19.

Solanki returned to Cuttack on February 17 to prepare for Baroda’s second match, against Chandigarh. Having swallowed the pain of his newborn’s death, Solanki showed even greater powers of resilience by scoring an unbeaten 103 at the end of the second day of the match.

“He said he had dedicated the century to his daughter,” team manager Arothe told ESPNcricinfo on February 25. Solanki did not even get to hold his little girl while she was alive.

Then, on Sunday morning, Solanki was once again struck by tragedy. Around 8.40am, Arothe received a call that said the player’s father had died. With the match, in its final day, starting at 8.45am, Arothe relayed the information initially to Baroda captain Kedar Devdhar via Ninad Rathwa, the 12th man. Rathwa, who is a good friend of Solanki, then told him the news and watched him leave the field. According to Arothe, Solanki’s dad, who was 75, was ailing for a while and in hospital for about two months.

Chandigarh and Baroda wore black arm bands on Sunday. The match referee Amit Pathak also gave Solanki permission to use the phone in the dressing room to talk with his family. “He saw the funeral of his dad virtually from the dressing room,” Arothe said. Both teams along with the match officials also observed two minutes’ silence in the memory of two family members Solanki had lost.

The Baroda Cricket Association has promised him all the help he might need, including flying him back home, but Solanki informed the team management he wants to stay and play their last league game of the season, against Hyderabad, starting on March 3.

Former Mumbai captain and current BCA chief Shishir Hattangadi paid tribute to Solanki, tweeting, “A story of a cricketer who lost his new born daughter a few days ago. He attends the funeral and gets back to represent his team to get a hundred. His name may not make social media ‘likes’, but for me #vishnoosolanki is a real life hero. An inspiration!”

Nagraj Gollapudi is news editor at ESPNcricinfo

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