New Delhi: He has been supportive of the efforts of the country's top sportspersons with encouraging words but very few people know that Prime Minister Narendra Modi's initiative eight years back turned out to be a lifeline for Gujarat cricket.
Gujarat chief coach Vijay Patel told reporters today that Modi's brainchild limited overs tournament has now become an important fixture in the state.
"In 2006, Modi, CM of Gujarat and president of Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) wanted talented cricketers of state to get exposure of top flight cricket. Modiji then got the GCA officials together and told us that he wanted to have a top level tournament organized by us," Patel said.
"Accordingly, the one day tournament named 'Jeevan' was started with three teams from Gujarat -- namely Baroda, Saurashtra and Gujarat. It was on Modiji's insistence that a prize money of Rs 5 lakh was kept and day/night matches were played with coloured clothing and white balls. We have made it an annual affair as it is now a trial tournament for selecting team for the Vijay Hazare Trophy," he said.
The chief coach also informed that current GCA chief Amit Shah, the BJP President, has already given a go-ahead to have a completely refurbished state-of-the-art cricket stadium.
"We are not taking any special grants from the BCCI for creating this new infrastructure. We are also not worried about the fund. Paise ke arrangement ho jaayega (Funds will be arranged)," said a smiling Patel.
In fact, Amit Shah's son and GCA joint secretary Jay Shah may drop in at the Feroz Shah Kotla tomorrow to watch Gujarat battle it out against Delhi on the third day of their Ranji Trophy encounter.