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By Peter Della Penna (on Twitter)
Mital Patel, who took the best ever figures by a USA junior cricketer last year when he claimed 6 for 35 including a hat-trick against Afghanistan in Ireland at the 2011 ICC U-19 World Cup Qualifier, has landed an equipment contract with cricket gear manufacturer Sanspareils Greenlands. In December, Patel received the DreamCricket.com New Inning Foundation USA Cricket Award in 2011 for Individual Performance of the Year after his 6 for 35 and is grateful to DreamCricket for their assistance in securing the equipment sponsorship from SG.
“Through DreamCricket I was in touch with SG and in mid-May we agreed to the contract. The reputation and the name itself is huge and the fact they offered me is huge,” Patel said about the sponsorship deal, which will run through next May with an option to be renewed. “I’m grateful that they selected me and hoping that I can give SG a great name.” Patel, 20, begins his second year at The Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in India this month. The young pace bowler from New Jersey originally started at Rutgers University before transferring to MS University in part to pursue his cricket ambitions more seriously while majoring in business economics.
“I got selected in September  to represent the university and with this I went to the all-India inter-university tournament which is the biggest university tournament in India,” Patel said. The tournament was comprised of 50-over matches, but Patel did well enough to also stay in the university team when they commenced play in the Baroda Premier League, which has a 50-over segment as well as two-day and three-day matches.
“India was a difficult transition for me in the beginning,” Patel said. “The wickets, the players, everything was a completely different scenario to US Cricket. It was tough on me in three-day cricket. Gradually I just kept getting used to how to bowl and bat there.”
Image (right) - USA U-19 bowler Mital Patel poses with the match ball after his 6 for 35, including a hat-trick, against Afghanistan U-19 in 2011. [Courtesy: Peter Della Penna/DreamCricket.com]
“As a bowler, it teaches me to bowl in the right areas, be patient and really work for my wickets. In 40-overs [league in New Jersey], you’re gonna get wickets sooner or later. Over there you really have to earn them because the batsmen can bat all three days. It teaches me how to keep my line and length and be patient with the batsmen to set them up. Mentally it’s changed me a lot.”
In addition to playing in the Baroda teams, Patel says he has also gotten a chance to train with the Mumbai Indians after making a connection with coach Robin Singh, who served as coach of the USA U-19 squad Patel was a part of in Ireland last summer.
“I’m on their development program,” Patel said. “Based on my performances in Baroda and Ireland, I usually travel with their up and coming players and their regular roster players for the training camps, fitness camps, everything. It’s just a great experience because you get to play alongside some of the best players in the world. Playing alongside people like Andrew Symonds, Aiden Blizzard, Rohit Sharma, you learn a lot from someone who is as experienced as they are. I did get a chance to bowl to Sachin [Tendulkar] which was a great honor. To be able to play alongside someone like him, even if it’s in the nets, is a great honor.”
Most recently, Patel represented the ICC Americas U-19 Development Squad which participated in the 2012 West Indies Cricket Board Regional U-19 Tournament last month in Barbados. He hopes to continue making strides with the support of SG over the next few years at MS University to pursue his dream of becoming a professional cricketer.
“It’s just been a great experience in India,” Patel said. “I plan on doing it all again for the next two years, playing for university, hopefully representing the Baroda A team and maybe even playing first-class cricket for Baroda. I want to experience all the cricket in the world. I want to play first-class cricket in India, play some County Cricket in England. Having the potential to play in all these areas with all these great players, it would be great for me.”