Remember the shy little boy Ali, who used to love playing marbles and hit sixes for fun in the 2013 film Kai Po Che?

It was reel life where Ali’s character finally realises his coach Govind’s dream in the backdrop of 2002 Gujarat riots and don India colours at the end of the film loosely adapted from Chetan Bhagat’s novel Three Mistakes of My Life.

Six years later, little did the child star Digvijay Deshmukh, now all of 21, know that he would be picked at the IPL auction by Mumbai Indians for Rs 20 lakh.

“Yes, I am Digvijay and I acted as Ali in that movie Kai Po Che. But I was never an actor and always a cricketer. Now, I am slowly realising my dream,” said Deshmukh, who was rewarded by MI for his steady show for Maharashtra in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he got 9 wickets in seven games.

Just after getting his IPL call-up, Deshmukh has also picked up six wickets and scored 83 in Maharashtra’s second innings on his Ranji Trophy debut against Jammu and Kashmir.

As he reminisced about his time as a child actor, he admitted that he never liked being branded as an actor.

“I had gone to play an U-14 school tournament in Mumbai and one of the ADs (assistant director) of the film selected me for audition and then I got the role. Everyone was very nice. I remember playing a lot of cricket with Sushant (Singh Rajput) and Rajkumar Rao. The character was somewhat like me,” Deshmukh said.

However, there was something that made him angry.

“People would refer to me as an actor and I would be very angry. Mujhe gussa aata tha. I did Kai Po Che because a lot of scenes were just about playing cricket. But staying outdoor for four months hampered my cricket and I didn’t want that to happen ever again,” Deshmukh recollected.

“I got an opportunity to do a television commercial (advertisement) but I declined. My parents also supported me. I didn’t want the focus to waver from the game,” said the Pune-based Deshmukh, who has come up the ranks after playing for Maharashtra in the National U-23 CK Nayudu Trophy.

Right now, he is getting a lot of guidance from Surendra Bhave, Maharahstra’s Ranji team coach. His average speed is in the range of 132-134 kmph but he can swing the ball both ways.

“I have no preference for a particular format. I have just played a Ranji Trophy game and I want to play across all formats for my state team,” he said.