UnheardStories: Akshay Wadkar - The definition of dedication
Akshay Wadkar representing Vidharbha
Akshay Wadkar, a cricketer who is tenacious in every sense of the word, lovingly known as 'Wadu'; the 28-year-old wicketkeeper-batter's story is one to be told. Shooting for the stars and taking the domestic circuit by storm with his endearing persona and two Ranji titles, Wadkar has a heart of gold and an armour of steel.
Where it all started
Wadkar entered the domestic circuit at the age of 16, knocking on doors but unable to find a stage to display his skills, he was picked for the Vidarbha U-16 squad for the Central Zone tournament. But for the following couple of years the right-handed batter couldn't find a spot in the domestic team.
Making his way through petty politics and hardships, Wadkar barely got any chances to represent his state at the junior level.
In his final season in U-19, Wadkar lit the stage at the Central Zone Vinoo Mankad Trophy and made his way into the Cooch Behar One day league squad at Chennai.
Woefully, Wadu contracted dengue and missed the first three matches of the tournament.
Manifesting his destiny, the batter made a comeback in the 4th match with his iron will. He scored 3 half centuries against Tripura, Delhi and Gujarat and then went on to create a record in the knock-out.
Wadkar made history in 2013 tournament by hitting a century in each innings against Jammu and Kashmir and paved the way for Vidharbha's qualification after a four year drought.
A dream for Ranji
The starry-eyed wicketkeeper is fuelled by two dreams: to win a Ranji title and to represent the Indian colours.
His dream came to life after treading a long path filled with brawls and blows. A squad looking for the perfect wicketkeeper-batter handed the gloves to Wadkar and in 2017, Wadkar finally made his debut for Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy and the rest is history.
Wadkar celebrates his ton
Vidarbha vs Kerala at the Ranji Trophy marked Wadkar's stark arrival. The right-handed batter came in at number 6 and played the saviour with a 53 and a 67. Wadkar took the lead and drove Vidarbha to the finals.
Scoring a magnificent 133 in the Ranji trophy final, Vidarbha and Wadkar etched their name in history. Vidharbha lifted their first Ranji title and Wadkar became a name to be feared.
He returned to the Ranji stage as a captain the following year, collecting unbeatens effortlessly. His significant scores being 122*, 144* and 146. Riding on Wadkar's back, the team lifted the cup for the second successive year.
The dream is still alive
Wadkar after scoring a century
Even though Wadu fulfilled his dream of winning the Ranji title not once but twice, he still moves ahead with untouched intent, his dream to represent India is still alive and burning.
A perfect weave of patience and resolution, Wadkar is a force to be reckoned with.