Dhruv showed promise, but…

Dhruv Pandove, all of 18 years, had been playing first class cricket for five years. Considered an exceptionally gifted batsman, this prodigy from Punjab had caught the attention of the cricketing fraternity, not just in the North.

On that fateful night in 1992, Dhruv was travelling home. He was adamant on continuing the journey which began from Sambalpur after the Deodhar Trophy match against South Zone. He did take Chetan Sharma’s advice and tucked the ‘big’ match fee in the flap of a leg-guard. Grabbing a transport from Ambala to Patiala, the cheerful lad hopped on to the first available cab. But he never reached home. A young life was snuffed out by a careless act of the cab driver.

Anil Kumble, who bowled to Dhruv in what turned out to be the teenager’s last match, recalled, “I remember Dhruv as a good, up and coming batsman. It was so sad to see a talent promise the world and then suddenly leave it.”

Mature head

Dhruv’s Punjab mate Vikram Rathour had watched him from close quarters. “He had a mature head on his shoulders and was very intelligent in cricket matters. He had a great future in the game.”

Rajdeep Kalsi, a precocious talent himself, remembered Dhruv for his skills. “He developed as a cricketer from a young age. He could pick the line very early and had so much time to play the ball. I saw him tackle some very good bowlers with such ease.”

Dhruv, who became the youngest player, at 17 years and 341 days, to score 1,000 runs in Ranji Trophy, was a kid full of life. He read the game brilliantly, could provide valuable inputs on the pitches.

His captain would vouch for it. For noted all-rounder Ajay Jadeja, who shared many precious moments with Dhruv from under-15 days, he was full of verve. “He had so much life in him. I have not seen anyone that young so fearless. He could take on anyone. His spirit to fight was very infectious”

Busy cricketer

Watching and learning from other cricketers, Dhruv never let go an opportunity to bug his seniors. “He knew he was headed for big cricket and focused on mentally preparing himself. He was never overawed. I liked the way he made his runs, nudges and pushes.

“He was a very busy cricketer and knew how to score in the middle,” said former international and National selector Bhupinder Singh.

Dhruv made an impressive Ranji Trophy first-class debut with a 94 against Himachal Pradesh when he was not even 14. The left-hander had made waves in junior cricket and had taken the first step in the big league on a high note. In all, he played 23 matches and scored two centuries but it was the talent that caught the attention of the opponents.

Son of former first-class cricketer Mahender Pandove, the opening batsman aggregated 1,090 runs in his career with a highest of 170. His final innings was a neat 73 against South Zone in the Deodhar Trophy match at Sambalpur on January 28, 1992. Three days later he was no more.

A few years after his death, Chetan Sharma visited the Pandove family in Patiala and wanted to see Dhruv’s kitbag which had been put away in the attic. He felt inside the leg-guard flap. He found the match fee had been neatly tucked in. It has been there since.

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