The many hats of Monank Patel

PC – USA Cricket. Monank led from the front versus Pakistan

‘Teriyaki Madness’ — the Chinese restaurant was owned by Monank Patel in South Carolina in the United States of America. That word ‘madness’ could serve as a crux to how he has tackled several challenges right through his cricketing journey. In other words, his insatiable hunger to succeed has a touch of madness associated with it.

A couple of years ago, we saw enough evidence of his grit when he accumulated a gutsy 85 for the USA against Nepal in a CWC League 2 game. The backstory to that effort is he had flopped against the same team during the 2019-20 season. Sandeep Lamichanne, the Nepal mainstay, had troubled Monank with the googly, with the latter choosing to play back to the leg-spinner. 

In that backdrop, it wasn’t a case of rubbing-your-eyes-in-disbelief moment when Monank composed a 38-ball 50 against Pakistan’s four-pronged pace attack of Haris Rauf, Naseem Shah, Mohammed Amir and Shaheen Afridi, in a T20 World Cup game.

The flourish with which he lofted Afridi, Pakistan’s spearhead, to complete his fifty in the 13th over, told everything that you want to know about his sheer self-belief. It could be observed that even when Pakistan’s bowlers began to generate some contrast swing, Monank seemed to have an idea as to which way it was moving.  

Monank’s cricketing skills aren’t just restricted to batting. He is turning out to be a fine leader of men, alongside being a wicketkeeper. It has to be remembered that the USA have cricketers from diverse backgrounds — India, Pakistan and the West Indies. Yet, it feels as if they are gelling well under Monank’s captaincy.

That is a summary of Monank’s international career. But there is more to Monank’s tale than just aggregating about 2000 runs in limited overs cricket for the USA. At the age of 11, he took up cricket seriously. A few years later, he was crunching hundreds in Gujarat Cricket Association’s U-15 tournaments. He was playing alongside future Indian greats like Jasprit Bumrah. Unfortunately, Monank couldn’t make it to higher levels of Indian cricket and he emigrated to USA in 2014. 

Even after moving over to the USA, Monank didn’t exactly have his way as his hotel business went into a loss. Monank then returned to New Jersey to be with his mother, who was suffering from cancer. Around that time, cricket once more took prominence in his life. 

On the back of some fine performances in List A cricket, he earned his USA cap, debuting against the United Arab Emirates in March 2019. Although he didn’t make an impression in that game, all those struggles had hardened the cricketer’s mindset. Soon, he registered a ton versus Oman.

Since then, he has gone on to add 13 fifties and another hundred in the abridged versions of the game, which includes a game-breaking half-century versus Pakistan in the T20 World Cup. Perhaps, another game-changing knock is around the corner for the former restaurant owner, when he plays for his adopted nation against his country of birth, India.