Mumbai: When Swapnil Patil steps on to the field wearing the United Arab Emirates colours against Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men in their World Cup tie, his near and dear ones here would root for him but they would support the Men in Blue.
"We would like him and UAE to do well in the match but later on we would support India. It is our country," said the wicket-keeper batsman's elder brother Rohan ahead of Saturday's game.
Swapnil had played for Mumbai at the under-14, under-19 and under-22 levels and was also in the Ranji squad then led by Sachin Tendulkar but could not force his way in (ahead of Vinayak Samant), said his brother.
When a chance arose to move on to Dubai in 2006 on the strength of his cricketing prowess for a construction company as a player-employee, the 29-year-old from Vasai in neighbouring Thane district grabbed it with both hands.
"It was in 2006 when the Yogi Group asked for his video footage with a few others before selecting him to play for them in Dubai. He performed very well for three to four years before being picked to play for UAE," said Rohan.
The sales executive, who got married recently and has left his new bride Manali behind to play in the World Cup, had represented the country of his residence in the World T20 Cup in Bangladesh last year - playing against Netherlands, Ireland and Zimbabwe - but did not get a chance to play against India.
After missing the distinction for Mumbai, Swapnil made his first class debut for UAE against Bermuda at the ICC Inter-Continental Cup in New Zealand in July, 2010.
He could represent UAE on residential qualification after living there for four years, as per ICC's rules.
Swapnil made his ODI debut against Scotland in Lincoln (New Zealand) and was left stranded on 99 not out.