| Vikram Solanki after completing his maiden ODI century Saturday
London: In the end, the English needed help from an Asian (an Indian, to be specific) to turn things around on the cricket field.
After the humbling loss at the hands of Heath Streak’s men in the opening one-day International, England staged a remarkable recovery to beat South Africa by six wickets in the second match of the NatWest triangular series, thanks to a stunning century by Vikram Solanki.
Solanki’s success is yet another indication that the most British of sports is increasingly looking to players with roots in the subcontinent to woo new and young audience even as it tries to compete with football.
Solanki, for his part, is proud of his Indian roots.
He migrated at the tender age of eight after his parents decided to move out of Udaipur in the 1980s but keeps visiting his vast network of relatives and family friends in his native town.
“I know my roots and visits my family and friends regularly. We’ve tried to remain in touch with our roots in India,” the Worcestershire batsman, who flayed the South African attack for an attractive 106 at The Oval Saturday, said earlier.
This is the second coming of Solanki who made his debut for England three seasons ago but after eight indifferent one-dayers was sidelined.
He staged a comeback last season with 900 County runs and has grabbed a second chance with both hands.
And, embarrassingly enough, Solanki has already been compared to Virender Sehwag by none other than his captain Michael Vaughan himself.
“If you want to call him a Sehwag, you can,” Vaughan was quoted as saying.
“Vikram is that kind of player. One day he will get a low score and like here he came out and played exceptionally well. We accept that.
“He is just a natural stroke player. He is a natural player all around the wicket, and very talented player,” Vaughan added.
Solanki himself has made it known earlier that he was a big admirer of Sachin Tendulkar.
“It’s a treat to watch him and you could learn so much from him. He is obviously the best batsman in the world,” he said.
He had lot of time to watch Tendulkar from close when the Indian star struck a majestic 169 against Worcestershire in a tour game during India’s tour of England last summer.
He himself could manage only five runs from eight balls before being caught by Rahul Dravid off Ajit Agarkar.
At The Oval, Solanki looked skywards when he reached his fifty and hundred, gesture of a typical Indian cricketer.
“If I am religious and I wanted to thank the big man upstairs,” Solanki said.