When Jogeshwari boy Ajaz Patel silenced the fans at Wankhede

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Every time Ajaz Patel picked up a wicket on Day One of the second Test, it felt as if someone had pressed the mute button at the Wankhede Stadium, which was otherwise noisy throughout despite being at just 25 per cent capacity due to the COVID-19 regulations.

Spinner Ajaz Patel was born and brought up in Mumbai’s Jogeshwari area till he was six, after which his parents shifted base to New Zealand in 1996. On Friday, some of his family members were cheering for him from the Garware Pavilion and this support is expected to grow over the weekend with as many as 20 of his cousins set to throng the Wankhede.

One of them, Owais, was at the Wankhede with his son Mohammed Zian on Friday to witness Ajaz’s heroics. “I can’t tell you how happy I am about my brother. I will cherish these memories for life. I have never seen him play at a stadium. We have been eagerly waiting to see him play in Mumbai. This is just surreal,” Owais, 30, told mid-day.

Owais works as a store manager for a sports brand and was able to attend Day One of the match as it was his weekly off on Friday. “Many of our cousins will come on Sunday,” added Owais, providing a peek into their family’s WhatsApp group that went berserk when Ajaz picked up the wickets of India’s top guns—Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli.

“It’s a very proud moment for our family. I’m just thrilled to support him from here. He is the first professional cricketer in our family,” said Owais.

While the damp outfield ruled out the first session of the Test, Owais got a chance to speak to Ajaz. “He asked about my son. He was also checking about my new-born baby as she was born premature. He then enquired when our other cousins are coming over to see the match. I wished him luck,” said Owais.

Ajaz’s family still own a house in Jogeshwari. His mother used to teach at a school near Oshiwara, while his father was in the refrigeration business. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, his family would often spend their holidays in India, informed Owais. It is learnt that Ajaz would often come to watch Mumbai Indians’ Indian Premier League matches at the Wankhede and has also bowled to them on a few occasions, thanks to his Kiwi teammate and MI pacer Mitchell McClenaghan.

Also Read: Umpires booed at Wankhede after Kohli’s dismissal

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