Second Innings

Mritunjay Tripathi, 30

Office superintendent, Indian Railways, Varanasi (2000 World Cup winner)

Chinmay Brahme

As Mritunjay Tripathi sits in the Northern Railways office in Varanasi, leafing through files, his mind inevitably wanders to that muggy evening in Colombo on January 28 when India lifted their first ICC U-19 World Cup, defeating hosts Sri Lanka. "At that point, we felt like the world was at our feet. We had won the first-ever youth World Cup. There were felicitations and glowing praise showered on us. It was like we could do no wrong," says Tripathi.

The sky seemed the limit for Tripathi as he had already made his Ranji Trophy debut for Uttar Pradesh in 1999 and the World Cup win only showcased his talent further. But three years later, Tripathi played his last first-class game for Uttar Pradesh.

"I suffered a groin injury which just refused to heal. I lost valuable time and with that, my place in the UP side," he says. Tripathi continued to train for a couple of years but realised that a comeback was not really on the cards. "The frustration was overpowering. I did not know what to do. Since the age of five, cricket had consumed my life. When I realised that a cricketing future was not for me, I took a lot of time dealing with it," he says.

In 2003, he took up a job with Northern Railways and progressed to the rank of office superintendent. The first couple of years, he tried hard to make the Railways Ranji team, figuring in two national camps, but failed to win a place in the side. "After my second camp, it was clear that I just could not play at the same level as earlier," he says . "It was then that I decided it was time to dive into work."

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