Vadodara: He is captain of Kenyan national cricket team but ask him where his heart lies and pat comes the reply – India. Twenty-seven-year-old Rakep Patel is one of the key cricketers in Kenya and his surname gives away his Indian roots. But few know that he also dreams of wearing the blue jersey and play for the Indian team.

“I would love to play for India. Cricket is a popular sport here and playing for India would be such an honour. I also like the Indian Premier League (IPL) a lot,” Patel told TOI. “In fact, I also thought of changing my passport so that I could play in the IPL. But I was too lazy to do that. Nothing beats IPL; the crowd, the craze and the exposure is amazing,” Rakep, who was in the city with the Kenyan squad to play against Baroda teams, said.

A Gujarati by roots, Patel’s parents, Rajendra and Rashmika, used to stay in in Vadodara but they migrated to Canada and then shifted to Kenya about 28 years ago to seek greener pastures. “Like every Indian, my dad was a great fan of cricket, so he literally pushed me to play the sport. I began playing at the age of nine. I started as an off-spinner and then took to batting as well,” Patel, who has played 39 one day internationals for Kenya, recalled.

He visits Gujarat often. “I have some relatives in Vadodara so I and my mother have been to this city several times. But I am bit of a lazy guy so I prefer to stay more at home or visit the farm that my family owns in a village near Vadodara city. I remember visiting Sursagar Lake though,” Patel said. He loves Gujarati food and says that his favourite place to tickle his taste buds is near Vishala Circle in Ahmedabad.

Though away from Gujarat, he seldom misses the state. “The team of our local Kanbis Sports Club is full of Kutchis so I hear a lot of Gujarati back in Kenya too,” he said. A father of 14-month-old baby boy, Patel wants his child to fulfil the dreams that he couldn’t.

“I want him to play in the IPL. Give him a bat and ball and he does show his cricketing genes,” he laughed.

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