UAE cricketer Chirag Suri ‘was always positive’ after being signed to play in the Indian Premier League side Gujarat Lions

The batsman, who captained the UAE at age-group level and has since graduated to the full senior side, was in tears after watching his lot bought by Gujarat Lions at Monday’s IPL auction.

In this file photo from December 29, 2013 Chirag Suri of UAE plays a shot in the ACC U19 Asia Cup 2014 cricket match against Pakistan at Sharjah Cricket Stadium. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // When Lot 245 sold at the Indian Premier League auction in Bengaluru on Monday, three people huddled around a television set in Dubai were suddenly moved to tears.

Those tears continued to flow steadily in the Suri household for the next 20 minutes, before son Chirag regained his poise and the reality dawned on him: he is on his way to cricket’s biggest show.

The 22-year-old UAE-raised batsman had been watching the live coverage of the sport’s most monied day since its start early in the morning.

By the time his lot came around, father Bobby had returned from his office at his marble and granite construction firm, while mother Gauri was also watching.

He was sold to Gujarat Lions for his base price of 10 lakh rupees (Dh55,000). Which means he will set aside domestic cricket in Sharjah at the end of next month, and call the likes of Brendon McCullum, Ravindra Jadeja and Jason Roy his teammates instead.

“I just wanted to be picked,” Suri said. “I was always positive. It has been a couple of years now that I have really wanted to play in this league. I haven’t been able to get those runs in the UAE games, but I have always believed in myself.”

Suri was a key figure in the UAE team at the Under 19 World Cup in 2014, but he has struggled to establish himself in the senior side since.

However, he caught the eye of Gujarat coach Brad Hodge at informal training sessions when the Australian was here for the Masters Champions League last year.

He has also returned to India to play club cricket as often as time has permitted. He was selected as one of the Lions’ “emerging player” picks, for players under 23.

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Young UAE batsman Chirag Suri will represent @TheGujaratLions in this year's IPL. Let's give him a ROARING welcome! #IPLAuction pic.twitter.com/O3gW6qkWnf

It marks the realisation of a dream for a player who was in the stands as a fan when the IPL was briefly exiled to the UAE in 2014, as well as a number of times since.

“I watched quite a few when the IPL was here, and I went to India to watch two matches last year, too,” he said.

“You can only imagine how amazing the atmosphere is for the matches in India. I won’t lie: even watching then I always thought about what it would be like to be playing, to be under that ball when it went in the air for a catch, or facing Dale Steyn.”

It is not just Suri Jr’s dream, either. Father Bobby played cricket at Delhi University and briefly as an overseas professional in the UK, before relocating to Dubai with his young family in 2003 for work.

He has been happy to permit Chirag to continue to pursue cricket rather than studies or full-time work, saying seeing his son playing “keeps me young”.

“It started when he was just five years old, when I took him to the cricket pitch for the first time, when we were still in Delhi,” Bobby said.

“I remember, he was so small, but he never wanted to leave the bat. Then we shifted to Dubai, and he has come up the hard way.

“He has worked really hard and I am so, so proud of him. I have no words. I have been a cricketer myself, and I know how difficult it is to get in, given the amount of countries who are involved.”

In the same way that his son is going to have to ask for leave from his domestic cricket commitments in April, Suri Sr is also planning to absent himself from work to travel to India as a spectator.

“When it happened, it was amazing,” Bobby said. “We did not expect it, and the three of us could not stop crying.

“It was my dream that he would become an IPL player. I can’t promise I will be at all the games, but definitely three or four games I will watch live.”

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