May 31, 1999. Dinesh Lad remembers the date.
A cricket match of some significance took place between Swami Vivekanand International School (SVIS), Gorai, and Borivli Sports and Cultural Centre in the final of the Presi Cup, a popular summer vacation tournament in Mumbai.
Lad, who is still head coach of SVIS, and his team had a field day; dismissing their opposition for a paltry 68 runs and then their openers polishing off the runs in near-record time. After the traditional exchange of high-fives and pats on the back between the teams, Lad made his way into the rival camp. He greeted BSCC’s head coach, his counterpart, and requested to be introduced to the team’s young off-spinner. The unassuming 12-year old stood in front of Lad, wondering why had an opponent coach stepped up to him; completely oblivious that this conversation would alter the course of his life.
Lad: Naam kya hai tera? (What’s your name?)
Young off-spinner: Rohit Sharma.
Lad: Kidhar rehta hai? (Where do you live?)
Sharma: Baju mein, chacha ke saath. (Nearby, with my uncle.)
Lad: Mummy-Daddy kidhar hai? (Where are your parents?)
Sharma: Woh Dombivli mein rehte hain. (They live in Dombivli.)
Lad: Parso chacha ke saath school aa ja. (Bring your uncle to our school the day after.)
Rohit Sharma: OK, Sir.
Two days later, on June 2, Sharma and his dearest chacha, Ravi, walked into SVIS. As promised, Lad was there.