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For Kozhikode-based Firose P.K., life was never easy. The only son of a labourer in Kerala, Firose used to walk almost 12km a day to school and back. Plus, as a six-year-old he would also contribute to the family’s income by doing various odd jobs, such as carrying a sack of lungis and T-shirts on his head. “Growing up was tough," says the 27-year-old, “but it taught me the values of hard work and dedication." Now, Firose appears to be making a mark in another arena: cricket painting.

On canvas: Painter Firose P.K.

After being punished in school when he was 5, for scribbling and making images in his notebook and not concentrating on class lessons, Firose began to get an inkling of what he wanted to do. “I knew it at that moment that I had some skill." Later, as he grew up, cricket became an obsession. Scribbling with pencils and watching fours and sixes combined mysteriously in his head. Now, 22 years after the caning at school, Firose is out with his first solo show. 100 Legends of Cricket, sponsored by cricket talent-scouting company, showcases around 130 oil paintings, sketches and acrylic paintings depicting all the great players in cricket history, from Don Bradman, Vivian Richards, Imran Khan and Wasim Akram to Sachin Tendulkar.

How long did it take to paint these works? “I’m a fast painter," says a self-effacing Firose. “I can do a sketch in around two to two-and-a-half hours." Keeping in mind the ongoing World Cup, Firose has done sketches or paintings of all the current Indian players. Yuvraj Singh looks angry in one sketch, while Tendulkar is intense as ever. Firose’s form of sketching is a little different. “I scribble more than I sketch," he says. All the works on display were finished by Firose within the last two months.

But why did he choose cricket-related paintings?

“I always wanted to become a cricketer," he mutters. “But I couldn’t. So I chose to pursue my passion, but in a different manner." And who is Firose’s favourite cricketer? “Of course, Sachin Tendulkar," he says immediately.

Though this is his debut exhibition, Firose wants to do a lot more. Many of his works have already been seen, appreciated and have been autographed by the cricketers he has sketched. “But my dream is to do a series of paintings on Sachin Tendulkar. Around 51 sketches or paintings on all his great Test match hundreds," he says. “But I’d really want Sachin to come and inaugurate it. That would be a dream come true for me."

The 100 Legends of Cricket—works by Firose P.K., is on display at The Bat and Ball Inn, Richmond Town, Bangalore, from 10am-7pm, till 2 April.

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