Fourth umpire Allahudien Palekar has Ratnagiri roots
When in South Africa, keep your eyes open, because Indian connections are never far away.
The fourth umpire for the Boxing Day Test match, who will be one of the standing umpires in the second Test at the Wanderers in Johannesburg, Allahudien Palekar, traces his roots back to a village in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra.
More interestingly, he has even umpired in two Ranji Trophy matches as part of the exchange program between Cricket South Africa and the Board of Control for Cricket in India.
Palekar counts that Mumbai v Madhya Pradesh match at the Wankhede Stadium in 2015 as special, because, when he went to the same venue as a tourist some years earlier, he was denied entry to the ground.
Special Wankhede match
“Mumbai is the home of cricket in India, and to be able to umpire a match at this ground is special,” Palekar had said back then.
He then umpired a match between Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Then only 26, Palekar became the second foreigner to umpire in a Ranji Trophy match, after mentor and fellow countryman Marais Erasmus.
In the second Test, the two will stand together.
Palekar, who played 16 first-class matches as a batsman who bowled a bit of off spin, was a one-time teammate of Faf du Plessis for Northerns and comes from a rich cricketing line. His father and uncles were all players and umpires at various grades in South African cricket. In 2017 Palekar was promoted to the ICC International Panel of Umpires.
Back in 2018
Palekar made his international debut as an on-field umpire right here in Centurion when India played South Africa in a Twenty20 International in 2018.
His first major decision happened to be giving Rohit Sharma out, plumb in front to Junior Dala for a golden duck, in the first ball of the second over.
India will be hoping that history does not repeat with its openers in the second Test, when Palekar is standing.
But the story does not end here. Even as fourth umpire, Palekar has been in the thick of things. When the infamous Sandpapergate saga happened that ended in Steven Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft copping bans, he was the fourth umpire.
Palekar, who took up umpiring in 2006 and has since been in regular touch with Pakistan’s Aleem Dar, who helped him out when he was starting off as an umpire.