While the ongoing ODI World Cup is exuding festive vibes, keeping fans in a cricket-mad country glued to their television sets, a batmaker and repairman from Mumbai is also basking in the euphoria around the biggest spectacle in the gentleman's game.
Making a humble living out of making and repairing willows wielding which many have left an indelible mark in the cricketing folklore and entered record books, Aslam runs a shop his father left him after his demise.
While his father set up the shop way back in the 1920s, Aslam assumed the mantle of carrying forward the legacy after the former passed.
Aslam's list of clients includes several modern-day cricketing greats, including Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar and his protege Virat Kohli. Several international players from Bangladesh, England and New Zealand, among other cricket-playing countries, swear by his craft and repair work.
"The shop was set up by my father in 1928. However, since his death, I have been carrying forward the legacy. Sachin would often call and visit me for running repairs on his bats. Virat, too, calls me to shape his willows. In the ongoing World Cup, however, no one from the Indian squad has visited me yet as they have enough bats with them. Several international cricketers from England, New Zealand and the West Indies frequent my shop. Players from England and Bangladesh also come to me when it comes to getting their bats repaired," Aslam told ANI.
Bhavesh, one of his old customers who is also a coach in a UAE cricket club, told ANI, "I have come here all the way from Dubai to buy bats. Aslam-ji is the best when it comes to making and tuning bats and the whole world knows about him. Even Sachin and Virat get their bats repaired by him. The bats that he shapes are unrivalled as they made superstars out of many players."
An unbeaten India will take on New Zealand in the first semifinal of the ongoing World Cup at Mumbau's iconic Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. While the Kiwis will be aiming to reach their third successive World Cup final after 2015 and 2019, India will be looking to finally get over their knockout jinx in major ICC events.
India's last triumph in the 50-over World Cup came in 2011 when the 'Men in Blue', led by the talismanic Mahendra Singh Dhoni, lifted the trophy.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (c), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ishan Kishan, Prasidh Krishna, Suryakumar Yadav.
New Zealand squad: Kane Williamson (c), Trent Boult, Mark Chapman, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Rachin Ravindra, Mitch Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Will Young.