Davis Cup star and multiple grand slam doubles winner Leander Paes donned the whites for the Sports Journalists’ Association of Mumbai (SJAM) in a Twenty20 match at the Bhakti Park, Wadala on Tuesday and shone with the ball and bat. ``I have virtually played all sports and I was the school team captain in cricket too,’’ said the 40 year old Paes before taking the field with 10 sports journalists against ILand - The Sports Gurukul.
In the city for Christmas, Paes took time off from tennis, operated with the new ball bowling slow medium pace for four straight overs, conceded 36 runs and took three wickets; he had his first victim caught at the wicket by G. Krishnan of DNA, second, caught of his own bowling and trapped the third leg before.
Then given a choice of bats, he picked up the one given by India player Rohit Sharma to Devendra Pandey (Indian Express) and made a strokeful 42 off 47 balls with four 4s and a six. ``Your cricket is as good as the tennis I play,’’ said former India seamer Balwinder Singh Sandhu appreciating the shots played by the tennis maestro. Paes and Abhijit Kulkarni combined well to add 93 for the second wicket, but SJAM chasing 149, fell short by five runs.
``It was my first cricket match in three years; two more fours and we would have won the game. When is the next match, I am here next week and I would like to play one more,’’ said Paes, repeatedly praised by his teammates for two splendid shots he played; an exquisite front foot cover drive and a punishing pull shot.
Previously Paes has figured in a couple of football matches for the sports journalists team.