We - Saurabh Sharma aka Shams and Paresh Waghela aka Wags are super enthusiastic and die hard cricket fans. Sharing our take on cricket matches, players comes with a lot of passion. We eat, drink and sleep cricket.
हरफनमौला- इस शब्द से आपका परिचय क्रिकेट हिंदी कमेंटरी के दौरान अक्सर हुआ होगा होगा !खेल में बल्लेबाज़ी, गेंदबाज़ी और क्षेत्ररक्षण में उम्दा प्रदर्शं करने वाले खिलाडी को हरफनमौला कहा जाता है जिसे क्रिकेट की सरल भाषा में ‘आल राउंडर’ कहतें हैं! एक संतुलित टीम का निर्माण बहुत हद्द तक इस बात पर निर्भर करता है की दल में हरफनमौला की उपयोगिता और संख्या क्या है और वे किस हद तक परिणामकारक हैं ! भारत का इंग्लैंड दौरा शुरू होने को है, तो आइये नज़र डालें भारतीय टीम श्रेष्ठ हरफनमौला खिलाडीयों पर और देखें मौजूदा दौर में इनका क्यों अधिक महत्व है ! यहाँ चुनिंदा खिलाडियों के बारे में कहा जा रहा है जो की लेखक के अपने ज्ञान और अनुभव के अनुसार है! पाठको से अनुरोध है की वह अपनी प्रतिक्रियां हमें दें ताकि इस विषय पे एक संपूर्ण श्रंखला हम लिख सकें!
भारत के क्रिकेट इतिहास में लाला अमरनाथ का नाम लीजेंड के रूप में लिया जाता रहेगा। वह भारत के पहले क्रिकेटर है जिन्होंने टेस्ट क्रिकेट में शतक बनाया! १९५२/३ में वह टीम के कप्तान रहे तथा गेंद और बल्ले से उनका प्रदर्शन हमेशा मील का पत्थर साबित हुआ! २४ टेस्ट में उनका बल्लेबाज़ी औसत २४ तथा गेंदबाज़ी औसत ३२ के क़रीब है!
वीनू मांकड़ ऐसे हरफनमौला खिलाडी रहे है जिन्होंने पारी के आगाज़ से लेकर ११ नंबर तक हर स्थान पर बल्लेबाज़ी की! भारत की और से ४४ टेस्ट में उन्होंने ३१. ४७ की औसत से २१०९ रन बनाये जिनमें ५ शतक शामिल हैं तथा गेंदबाज़ी में 32. की औसत से १६२ विकेट्स लिए जिसमें ८ मर्तबा एक पारी में ५ विकेट्स लिए! १९५२ के लॉर्ड्स टेस्ट में उनका प्रदर्शन अविस्मरणीय रहा जहाँ उन्होंने पहली पारी में ७२ तथा दूसरी पारी में १८४ रन बनाये वहीँ पहली पारी में ७३ ओवर डाल कर में ५ विकेट लिए!
सलीम अज़ीज़ दुर्रानी एक बेहद प्रतिभावान खिलाडी रहे. उनके हरनौला खेल ने कई अवसर पर मैच की काया पलट की. मिडिल ओरेर में उनकी उपयोगी पारी हो या विकेट टेकिंग क्षमता , दुर्रानी ने हर मैच में अपनी छाप छोड़ी ! उनका २९ टेस्ट में औसत बल्लेबाज़ी २५. और गेंदबाज़ी ३५. रहा. दर्शकों की मांग पर चक्के जड़ने का उन का हुनर बड़ा ही मशहूर था.
इस कड़ी में अगर सबसे प्रभावी और सबसे ऊपर किसी का नाम लिखा जायेगा तो वह निसंदेह कपिल देव होंगे! अगर हम शब्द हरफनमौला के लिए किसी खिलाडी का रूप ढूंढें तो वह कपिल देव से शुरु होकर उनही पे ख़तम हो जायेगा! भारत के १९८३ वर्ल्ड कप के महानायक और अब तक के सर्वश्रेष्ठ आल राउंडर रहे कपिल देव ने टीम की कप्तानी से लेकर एक खिलाडी के रूप में वह कीर्तिमान स्थापित किया जैन जिन्हे भारतीय क्रिकेट इतिहास में स्वर्णिंम अक्षरों में लिखा जायेगा! टेस्ट हो एक दिवसीय अंतर्राष्ट्रीय , कपिल ने हर मैच एक वीर योद्धा के जैसे पूर्ण समर्पण से खेला! उनके खेल में जीत की ललक और जुझारूपनन हमेशा से दिखा!
१९८३ में लॉर्ड्स की बालकनी में वर्ल्ड सीप थामे हुए कपिल देव की छवि हर क्रिकेट प्रेमी के दिल ओ दिमाग पर हमेशा के लिए अंकित हो गयी है! इनके औसत और अन्य पहलु पे शायद एक सीरीज लिखना भी कम् है, पर हम फिर कभी कोशिश करेंगे!
लीजेंड क्रिकेटर लाला अमरनाथ की विरासत को मोहिंदर अमरनाथ ने आगे बढ़ाया और भारत ककी १९८३ वर्ल्ड कप जीत में उनका योगदान हमेशा स्मरणीय रहेगा! याद कीजिये वह पल जब अमरनाथ ने वेस्ट इंडीज का आखरी विकेट लिया और भारत विश्वविजेता बना!
मोहिंदर अमरनाथ एक ऐसे खिलाडी रहे जिससे हर कप्तान अपनी प्लेइंग ११ में रखना चाहेगा. बल्लेबाज़ी में बहुदा संकट मोचक बन के उभरे तथा गेंदबाज़ी में छोटे छोटे प्रभावशाली स्पेल्स से उन्होंने हर जीत में अहम् भूमिका निभाई! वह हमेशा से ही एक साहसी खिलाडी रहे. १९७६ के वेस्ट इंडीज टूर की ४०६ रनों प्रसिद्ध इनिंग्स दूसरी पारी में खेली गयी उनकी ८५ रन की पारी ऐतिहासिक है! मोहिंदर अमरनाथ का टेस्ट में ४२. बल्लेबाज़ी औसत रहा जबकि गेंदबाज़ी में ५५. ६८. उन्हें कप्तान अक्सर साझेदारियां तोड़ने के काम के लिए आमंत्रित करते!
भारतीय टीम के मौजूदा कोच रवि शास्त्री अपने दौर के शानदार प्लेयर रहे. हालांकि बहुत से लोग उनकी धीमी गति से की गयी बल्लेबाज़ी से नाखुश रहे मगर रवि अपने आल राउंड खेल के दम पे टीम के अभिन्न अंग बने रहे. दाहिने हाट बल्लेबाज़ी और बाएं हॉट के स्पिन से रवि ने कई यादगार प्रदर्शन किये. जरूरत पड़ने पर रवि काफी तेज़ी से भी रन बनाने की क्षमता रखते थे. फर्स्ट क्लॉस में ६ गेंद में ६ छक्के मारनेवाले वह पहले भारतीय क्रिकेटर हैं!. १९८५ की वर्ल्ड सीरीज में वे प्लेयर ऑफ़ थी टूर्नामेंट रहे. इंग्लिश कमेंटरी में रवि शास्त्री एक मशहूर नाम रहे जिन्होंने अपनी अलग शैली से सुनाने वालो के लिए खेल को और भी रोचक बनाया. इन के कई क्लिशे अब तक मशहूर हैं. उनका टेस्ट मैच वा करीयर शानदार रहा जहा गेंदबाज़ी में ४०. की १५१ब्विकेट लिए वही ३५. की औसत से बल्लेबाज़ी जिसमें ११ शतक शामिल हैं. ऑस्ट्रेलिया के विरुद्ध सिडनी में बनाये २०६ रन उनका सर्वश्रेष्ठ स्कोर रहा. लेकिन यह उन की आखिरी टेस्ट सीरीज भी थी!
८० और ९० के दशक में मनोज प्रभाकर ने भारतीय टीम में अपने आक्रामक खेल और हरफनमौला प्रदर्शनं से बहुत संतुलन बनाये रखा. उन्होंने पारी के आगाज़ से ७ नंबर तक बल्लेबाज़ी की और अपनी माध्यम गति की स्विंग से गेंदबाज़ी में विविधता लायी. प्रभाकर हमेशा से सुर्ख़ियों में रहने वाले खिलाडियों में रहे! टेस्ट में उनका औसत : गेंदबाज़ी ३७३० और बल्लेबाज़ी ३२.६५ ( १ शतक)!
९०’स का दौर – अजय जडेजा और रोबिन सिंह:
९० के दशक में काम या यूँ कह लीजिए कोई भी ऐसा हरफनमौला नहीं हुआ जिसका प्रभाव हम सब पर हमेशा रहे. कुछ अनूठे रिकार्ड्स के अलावा टीम में हमेशा आल राउंडर की कमी खलती रही.अजय जडेजा और रोबिन सिंह ने ९० के दशक में कई आकर्षक एक दिवसीय पारियां खेली. उनकी रनिंग बिटवीन विकेट्स और आपसी तालमेल गज़ब का था. कई मौको में दोनों ने टीम को संकट से निकाल जीत तक पहुंचाया। क्षेत्ररक्षण में जडेजा और रोबिन सिंह लाजवाब रहे या यूँ कह सकते भारतीय टीम जो आज एक बेहतरीन फील्डिंग यूनिट भी कही जाती है इसकी नीव उस वक़्त इन खिलाडियों द्वारा राखी गयी. टेस्ट मैचेस में दोनों का प्रदर्शन कुछ ख़ास नहीं रहा जहाँ अजय जडेजा ने १५ टेस्ट खेले वहीँ रोबिन सिंह ने अपने करियर में केवल १ टेस्ट मैच खेला.
१९९६ वर्ल्ड कप से मनोज प्रभाकर की विदाई के में हरफनमौला खिलाडी का अकाल इरफ़ान पठान के प्रदर्शन से ख़तम हुआ. बाएं हात के फ़ास्ट मध्यम स्विंग से उन्होंने सबका ध्यान आकर्षित किया और बल्लेबाज़ी में भी वह आक्रामक दिखें!२००६ के पाकिस्तान दौरे में उनको हैट-ट्रिक टेस्ट क्रिकेट इतिहास के सबसे अच्छे ओपनिंग स्पेल्स में गिनी जाती रहेगी. टेस्ट में पठान का गेंदबाज़ी औसत 32. २६ रहा तथा बल्लेबाज़ी ३१. ५७!
२०११ वर्ल्ड कप में भारत की जीत के सूत्रधार रहे युवराज सिंह किसी परीचाय के मोहताज नहीं. उन्होंने गेंद और बल्ले दोनों से जो प्रदर्शन किया उसका परिणाम भारत ने २ अप्रैल २०११ का वर्ल्ड कप २८ साल बाद जीत को चखा. उनकी गेंदबाज़ी में हमेशा विविधता रही जो की रन रोकने के साथ हमेशा ब्रेक थ्रू की तालाश में होती थी. फील्ड पर युवराज एक चीता की क्षेत्ररक्षण कटे और उनकी बल्लेबाज़ी के तोह क्या कहने. किसी प्रेमी से पूछिए युवराज की बल्लेबाज़ी आत्ममुग्धा करती हुई दिखती है. इनके बाद यूँ तो कई खिलाडियों ने टीम में पदार्पण किया प्रार्शन विशुद्ध हरफनमौला की श्रेणी में नहीं रखा जा सकता!
आज का दौर:
मौजूदा दौर में जिन्हे हम आलराउंडर की संज्ञा दे सकतें वह केवल हार्दिक पंड्या और रविंद्र जडेजा तक सीमित है!
नाम से मशहूर रविंद्र जडेजा भारतीय स्पिन जोड़ी के महत्त्वपूर्ण स्तम्भ है! उन्होंने समय समय पे अपनी उपयोगिता सिद्ध की क! गेंदबाज़ी में जडेजा हमेसना एक विकेट टेकर के रूप में देखे जाते जैन हालाँकि बल्ले से उनका प्रदर्शन बेहद औसत रहा है परन्तु अपने चुस्त क्षेत्ररक्षण से वे टीम को एक संतुलन अवश्य प्रदान करते है! जडेजा के घरेलु रिकॉर्ड इस बात का की वह एक लम्बी रेस के खिलाडी हैं. वे भारत के अब तक एकमात्र खिलाडी हैं जिनके नाम फर्स्ट क्लास क्रिकेट में तीन तिहरे शतक शामिल हैं! टेस्ट में उनका गेंदबाज़ी का औसत २३. है जिसमें मैच में ९ दफा ५ विकेट और एक दफा १० विकेट ( २०१६ इंग्लैंड के खिलाफ चेन्नई टेस्ट) तथा बल्लेबाज़ी औसत २९.१७ है. उम्मीद करते है आगे इंग्लैंड दौरे पे उनके प्रदर्शन से भारत की जीत की चमक बढे!मौजूदा समय में हार्दिक पंड्या एकमात्र खिलाडी हैं सर्वश्रेस्थ हरंमौला कह सकते हैं. हालाले साउथ अफ़्रोका दौरे पे उन्होंने बल्ले से ऐसी पारी खेली की उनकी तुलना महान कपिल देव तक से कर दी गयी. हालांकि उन्हें अभी काफी लम्बा सफर तये करना मुश्किल दौरे में उनका योगदान बेहद महत्त्वपूर्ण है फिर वह चाहे खेले किसी भी प्रारूप में क्यों न हो. पंड्या का टेस्ट में गेंदबाज़ि औसत ३६.७१ तथा बल्लेबाज़ी औसत ३६.८० है जिसमें एक शतक/३ अर्ध शतक शामिल हैं! उन्होंने अपने पहली ही टेस्ट में एक आतिशबाज़ शतक लगाया है!
If all of us suffer from ‘Brain Fade’ at some point in time, there are few moments from the lovely game of cricket that never fades off, instead, gets etched in the memories and we cherish it for ever. Be it sheer joy after victory or be it feeling of revenge and vengeance. At this point, let’s go back down to the memory lane, straight back to the 2002 Natwest Trophy’s final match in our latest edition- Settling the scores-From Wankhede to Lords.
Even in the middle of his dream, Saurav Ganguly would never have thought that he could ever do the most shocking thing in his life. Never will he will ever do this in future. I clearly recall Dada’s action as a response to Andrew Flintoff’s shameful act at Wankhede, which is considered as Mecca of Cricket in India. It all started in January 2002 when England came down to India to play 6 ODI’s. India was leading the series 3-1. One victory for India could have helped to seal the series. 5th match (at Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi ), England posted 271/5 in their stipulated 50 overs.
Skipper Hussain missed out on his half century by one run while Nick Knight got run out at 105 Runs. Flintoff scored a quick fire 52 of 39 deliveries. In reply to England’s total, India fell short by 3 runs even after a good start at the top order. Flintoff managed to get rid of Dinesh Mongia.
England had won the 5th game and the last match was at Wankhede- Mumbai. Harbhajan Singh was on a song and took a Fifer, restricting England to 255-10. Indian openers Sachin and Sehwag out early. The match was evenly poised and results could have been in favour of either of the teams. Skipper Hussain brought Freddie Flintoff toward the 39th over. He was in good form and his luck with the batting had made him confident. He was charging down and his body language was very different. He dismissed Mohammed Kaif at 20, who was trying to build his innings. Ajay Ratra and our very own Bombay Duck- Ajit Agarkar got out in quick succession. He didn’t manage to trouble the scorers and went off for a duck.
England needed 3 wickets. The stage was set for Freddie Flintoff. The only way he could salvage back pride for his team was by taking wickets and winning the game. He managed to dismiss Bhajji in the 48th over. India needed 11 runs of the last over with 2 wickets remaining. Hussain had saved Flintoff for the death overs and possibly for the last over. Freddie was pumped up and raring to finish off the Indian innings. From the looks of it, it gave a feel that he was on some energy enhancing substance.
Anil Kumble was on strike and Hemang Badani was on the non- striker’s end. First ball, Kumble hit towards the extra covers. The ball was traveling quickly towards the boundary until the Ashley Giles gathered it. It fetched 2 runs for Kumble. Badani was still not on strike. Next Badani sent him back.
8 runs needed of 4 balls. That was the equation for India. Badani was on strike. There was some hope left. He stepped towards the off side and hit the ball on the leg side towards long on and scampered through for 2 runs. Now then, India needed 6 runs of 3 deliveries. It could have been anyone’s game.
Hemang took strike. Flintoff came charging in. Badani missed and the ball went to the keeper. Kumble had made it half way towards the pitch. The keeper tried to throw the ball on the stumps and missed. Flintoff was clever enough to gather the ball in his follow through ran towards the stumps and threw himself along with the ball on the stumps before Kumble could cover his ground. The umpires were in doubts and hence called for third umpires decision. The replay confirmed that Kumble was run-out by a mile.
The score card looked 250 for 9 with India wanting 6 runs of 2 deliveries. In came Javagal Srinath. Flintoff had planned to bowl him an in-swinging Yorker. Srinath went towards the offside and tried to glance it through leg side, ended up getting yorked. The entire Mumbai crowd went silent. Flintoff was running towards the keeper, removed his T-Shirt and propelled it in the air and was running on the ground. It was the most shocking and heart-breaking scene on the cricket ground for the Indians and it certainly didn’t go down well in the minds of the Indian players and supporters. Many a times, people don’t remember what was outcome of the series. The only thing they remember certain moments and actions happening on the field. The series was tied yet they were under shock after the Flintoff’s T-shirt incident feeling as if India had lost the series.
Later in the year in June, India were traveling to England to play the Natwest Series. Out of the 5 matches till the finals, India had lost only one match, and one match was washed out. The expectations were high to win the finals.
It was 13th July 2002 in Lords, India were up against the host in the Finals of the Natwest 2002 Series Naseer Hussain had won the toss and elected to bat. Marcus Trescothick and skipper Hussain had taken the complete measure of the Indian bowlers and compiled good partnership. Andrew Flintoff scored a quick fire 40 of 32 balls. Captain Hussain was in complete control and was guiding the team to a big total in the big final.
England managed to score 325/5 in 50 overs. This was a highest total for a team to chase back then in the ODIs. In reply to England’s innings, India were at 314/6 and needing 12 off 16 balls. In came the big Freddie steaming from the bowling end. The memories from Wankhede were still very fresh. He had already created scars in the minds of the Indians with his act in Mecca of Indian cricket- Wankhede.
Flintoff had taken 2 quick fire wickets dismissing Bhaji and Anil Kumble in the 48h over. The score didn’t move. India still need 12 runs of 13 balls. Kaif was playing sensibly and positively and was not missing a single opportunity to grab a single. India still had to score 6 runs of 7 deliveries. Defeat was staring at India’s feet. A wicket there would have been the final nail on the coffin. It was 49th over and Darren Gough was running quickly to finish off his over. Kaif tried hitting the ball towards Mid-off but it took an outside edge and went up in the air towards the boundary at the third man region and Flintoff could not cut it off. It was a sigh of relief as
India needed 2 runs of 6 balls. Zak (Zaheer Khan) was on strike. The situation in the dressing room was very intense. Dada was standing at the famous balcony of Lords biting his nails. Like in the last match at Wankhede, Flintoff came to bowl the final over. He was charging towards his bowling mark-up He had already created a dent in the Indian innings by striking twice in the his last over (48th over). It was as if he had come out to rub salt over the injury. There was something else running in Saurav Ganguly’s mind. Freddie came steaming towards Zak. He wanted to bowl a Yorker, ended up bowling a full toss. Both batsmen ran for a quick risky run. It was a throw and a miss and Kaif had to dive and stretch full length to cover his ground. Kaif got up and charged back for another run as it was an over throw. India managed to chase the highest total back then. Ganguly had glued his eyes on the victory run. As soon Kaif took the second run, he took off his T-shirt, propelled in the air and of course gave a mouth full and returned the insult done by Flintoff in India’s Mecca of cricket- Wankhede.
Hope you liked- Settling the scores-From Wankhede to Lords.Until then, stay tuned and keep reading www.shamsnwags.com
Here’s have a look at the journey full of fun and entertainment of the cricket fans to the MCA stadium Pune to watch the battle between the 2 giants Mumbai Indians Vs CSK. Its ShamsnWags’s journey along with Arpit Awasthi and Gavin.
It was a beautiful journey from Mumbai to Pune.
The squad for Mumbai Indians was :
Ishan Kishan (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Akila Dananjaya, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah, Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Mitchell McClenaghan, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, and Adam Milne
MS Dhoni (c & wk), Shane Watson, Ambati Rayudu, Sam Billings, Ravindra Jadeja, Dwayne Bravo, Deepak Chahar, Harbhajan Singh, Imran Tahir, Shardul Thakur, Faf du Plessis, KM Asif, Kanishk Seth, Dhruv Shorey, Murali Vijay, Mark Wood, Kshitiz Sharma, Monu Kumar, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Karn Sharma, N Jagadeesan, and David Willey.
सन १९८४ की बात है. बाबा का ट्रांसफर बॉम्बे से नासिक हुआ था, और हम सब नासिक चले गए. नया शहर, नया स्कूल, नए दोस्त, सबकुछ नया. दो पुराने साथी साथ आये थे, मेरा क्रिकेट और हमारा ‘भारत ‘ ब्लैक एंड वाइट टी वी. टी वी बस मैच देखने के काम में आता था , बाकी खाली समय घर के सामने वाली सड़क पर टेस्ट मैचेस खेलने में गुजरता था और अखबारों में क्रिकेट फॉलो करता था. सारे अंतर्राष्ट्रीय और रणजी मुकाबलों की जानकारी कंठस्थ होती थी.
१९८४ में अजहरुद्दीन के बारे पहली बार पढ़ा . दुलीप ट्राफी में २१२ रन की उनकी शानदार पारी के बारे पढ़कर लगा की यह तो कोई नया खब्बू बल्लेबाज मिल गया है भारत को. लेकिन कहाँ जगह पाएगा टीम में, जिस में गावस्कर, गायकवाड, वेंगसरकर, मोहिंदर अमरनाथ, संदीप पाटिल और रवि शास्त्री पहले से ही जगह जमाए हुए थे. १९८५ की इंग्लैंड के खिलाफ सीरीज में दिल्ली का टेस्ट भारत हारा. कपिल देव और संदीप पाटिल को चयन समिति ने गैरजिम्मेदाराना बल्लेबाज़ी करने के जुर्म में टीम से बाहर कर दिया, और संदीप पाटिल की जगह ली मोहम्मद अजहरुद्दीन ने. कलकत्ता के इडन गार्डन्स में यह टेस्ट खेला जाना था. १३ साल की उम्र में, मुझे फ़िक्र हुई अजहर की. एक लाख दर्शकों (हां, उस ज़माने में ५ दिन का टेस्ट मैच देखने भी इतनी तादाद में दर्शक आते थे) के सामने उसे अपना करतब दिखाना था. उम्र मात्र २१ की थी. भारत के ३ विकेट १२६ के स्कोर पर गिरे थे, और अजहर मैदान में उतरे. उनके बारे जो पढ़ा था, उस से मेरे मन में एक मज़बूत शरीर वाले नौजवान की छवि बन गई थी, मगर टी वी पर उन्हें देखते ही यह छवि ध्वस्त हो गई. किसी अकालपीडित ऊँट के जैसा दिखनेवाला यह लड़का क्या कर लेगा, मैंने सोचा !
लेकिन अगले ही ओवर में मुझे जो देखने को मिला, उसकी कल्पना भी यह १३ साल का क्रिकेट सीखने की कोशिश करनेवाला बच्चा कर नहीं सकता था. नॉर्मन कोवान्स ने लेग और मिडिल स्टंप पर एक तेज़ योर्कर फेंकी. अजहर ऑफ़ स्टंप की तरफ सरकने लगे. पलभर के लिए लगा की वह इस तेज़ गेंद से अपने पैरों की उंगलियाँ डर के मारे बचा रहे है. मैंने सोचा, गया अब बन्दे का लेगस्टंप, और ख़तम हो गया इसका करियर. उतने में अजहर ने गेंद के साथ बल्ले को इतनी नाजुक नज़ाकत से भिड़ाया, कि गेंद जितनी तेज़ी से उनकी तरफ आई थी, उस से दुगनी रफ़्तार से फाइन लेग बाउंड्री के पार हो गयी. कोवंस के हाथ, जो विकेट मिलने की उम्मीद में ऊपर उठे थे, इस असंभवनीय स्ट्रोक को देख कर सर पर आ गए, और वे अपना सर थामकर पिच पर बैठ गए. यह था अजहर का टेस्ट क्रिकेट का पहला स्कोरिंग स्ट्रोक. मुझे अब भी याद है, मानो जैसे कल ही देखा हो. उसके बाद वाले दो टेस्ट में भी अजहर ने दो और शतक जडे, और अगले १५ सालों तक वे भारत की टीम के अविभाज्य हिस्सा बने रहे. इस दौरान उन्होंने कई जबरदस्त पारियां खेली, और गेंदबाजों को अपने निराले तकनीक और अनोखी बल्लेबाजी से भौंचक्का करते रहे.
१९९० में वे भारत के कप्तान भी बने, और अपने समय में भारत के सबसे यशस्वी कप्तान भी रहे. कई लोग, जिनमे बड़े बड़े पूर्व और विद्यमान क्रिकेटर भी थे, अजहर की बल्लेबाजी के कायल हो गए. मुझ जैसे सामान्य फैन्स की तो गिनती भी मुश्किल थी. यह वह दौर था, जब भारत ने १९८३ का विश्व कप जीता था, और क्रिकेट को भारत में अच्छा ख़ासा ग्लैमर प्राप्त होने लगा था. १९८५ की बेन्सन एंड हेजेस विश्व प्रतियोगिता भी भारत ने जीत ली, और फिर तो भारत में क्रिकेट एक धर्म बन गया. क्रिकेट में पैसा भी बहुत आने लगा. अजहर के लिए यह माहौल बड़ा ही अच्छा था. हैदराबाद की गलियों में पला एक सामान्य मुस्लिम परिवार का यह बच्चा अब देश की धड़कन बन गया था. घर में अच्छे पैसे आने लगे थे. नौरीन से शादी हुई, दो बच्चे हुए, फिर शायद नौरीन अजहर के साथ कदम से कदम मिलाने से नाकाम रही, अजहर से ज्यादा उनका ध्यान अजहर के द्वारा कमाए पैसे पर ज्यादा रहने लगा, और शादी टूट भी गई. जिसे मूवी देखना बचपन में मन था, उस लड़के ने एक फिल्म हीरोइन से (संगीता बिजलानी ) दूजा ब्याह रचाया. अजहर सोशल लाइफ में सीढियां तेज़ी से चढ़ने लगे थे. हालाकि इस का कुछ ख़ास असर उनके खेल पर कभी न पड़ा. वे रनों की बौछार लगते रहे, और अपनी मुस्तैद फील्डिंग और क्रिकेट की अच्छी समझ से टीम की जान बन गए. सारे देश को इस छोटे परिवार के लड़के पर नाज़ था, जिसने देश का नाम ऊंचा किया था. अरमानी के डिज़ाइनर सूट्स और गॉगल्स, BMW की कारें, आलीशान घर, क्या नहीं था अजहर के पास ?
मगर पैसे की लत बड़ी बुरी ! १९९६ के साउथ आफ्रिका के सेरिज में कुछ बुकीज से अजहर के सम्बन्ध होने की, और उन्होंने साउथ अफ्रीका के कप्तान हैन्सी क्रोनिए की पहचान एक बुकी के साथ कराने की खबर बाहर आई, और अजहर क्रिकेट की दुनिया में खलनायक माने जाने लगे. एक फ़रिश्तानुमा क्रिकेटर , जिसकी शोहरत और दौलत देखकर हम सब बड़े खुश होते थे, अब लोगों को चोर नज़र आने लगा. मुक़द्दमा सन २००० तक चला, और अजहरुद्दीन के क्रिकेट खेलने पर आजीवन प्रतिबन्ध लगाया गया. हालाकि वह प्रतिबन्ध सुप्रीम कोर्ट ने २०१२ में शिथिल किया, लेकिन तब अजहर ४९ सालों के हो चुके थे, और अब अंतर्राष्ट्रीय क्रिकेट खेलने के काबिल नहीं रहेे. १९९९ में उन्होंने अपना आखरी टेस्ट खेला, जिस में भी उन्होंने शतक लगाया, और अपने पहले और आखरी टेस्टों में शतक लगाने वाले चुनिंदा क्रिकेटरों की फेरिस्त में वे शामिल हो गए.
अब जब भी किसी से अजहर की बात करूँ, तो लोग पहले मैच फिक्सिंग की ही बात करते है. लेकिन इसके बावजूद मुझे अजहर बहुत पसंद है. नासिक में हम सब फैन्स उन्हें “मामू” कहते थे. मामू बल्ले को ऐसे पकड़ता था, जैसे कोई चित्रकार अपना ब्रश पकड़ता है, और उस बल्ले से कई सुन्दर पारियों की तस्वीरें हमारे लिए मैदान के कैनवास पर बनाता था. उसकी कलाइयाँ किसी मजदूर की कलाइयों सी मजबूत थी, लेकिन उनका मुड़ना किसी नर्तकी के विभ्रम सा मनमोहक होता था. मानो वे गेंद को बहुत प्यार से दुलारता था, और बाउंड्री के पार भेजता था. जैसे कोई माँ अपने बच्चे को किसी की बर्थडे पार्टी के लिए तैयार करके भेजती हो. मामू का हर स्ट्रोक ऐसा ही रहता था, किसी क्यूट बच्चे जैसा. जिसे देखते ही चूमने को दिल करे. जैक बैनिस्टर ने मामू के बारे कहा था, “ He nonchalantly eases into such strokes, which the greatest of batsmen can’t dream to dream of.” हिंदी के सबसे बेहतरीन कमेंटेटर सुशील दोशी कहते थे, “इनकी कलाइयों में मानो बॉल बेअरिंग है, वे चलने लगती है तो रूकती ही नहीं.”
मुझे ऐसा ही मामू याद है. मैंने उनका मैच फिक्सिंग वाला मुक़द्दमा फॉलो भी नहीं किया. मुझे अपने मन में बनी हुई मामू की तस्वीर बिगाड़नी नहीं है.
अभी भी किसी क्रिकेट प्रेमी से मामू की बात करता हूँ, और वह आदमी मैच फिक्सिंग की बात करने लगता है, तो मेरा मन चीख उठता है,
“ये क्या कर बैठे मामू ???”
A successful person Is the one who has got determination, aspiration, who believes in hard work and discipline. An individual success can well be translated into a team success. The future of Team India, presently the World Champions, is secured with the strong wall- Rahul Sharad Dravid.
Not taking anything away from the U-19 boys, it’s the guidance of Dravid that has seen Team India win the Under -19 World Cup. He was always the captain’s Go-to man. Donned Wicket keeper’s gloves when the captain required, opened the innings, played a sheet anchors role in the middle order, rolled his arms- were some of role that he has often played.
Commitment towards cricket during his playing days was so addictive and irresistible that he carried on the mantle into coaching the Junior team. No reward could have been better than a World Cup Victory by his Under- 19 boys!
4 times World Champion-Under 19 Team India. This was an unbeaten performance as India didn’t lose a single match. Ironically, India played its first match and last match Australia. This tournament has seen India produce some wonderful players. To name a few- Captain Prithvi Shaw, Shubman Gill, Manjot Kalra, Nagarkoti, Ishan Porel & Shivam Mavi . This victory will remain in the memories for a long time to come. Some of them can walk into the senior team anytime.
Prithvi Shaw marshaled his troops very well. He missed on his century by 6 runs in the first match against Australia. Had he stayed on to the wicket, he could have scored a century in the Finals. Shubman Gill scored a brilliant unbeaten century against Pakistan in the semi Finals. A brilliant bowling spell by Ishan Porel made sure that India Won by a whopping margin of 203 runs. Manjot Kalra made the most of it when it mattered. He sealed the victory with an unbeaten 101 runs. Kamlesh Nagarkoti has been sensational in the U-19 Circuit. He crossed almost 150 Kmph in the speed gun in one of the match.
A big congratulation to the Under-19 Team India and Big Salute to Rahul Dravid.
It was Day 5 of the second test, with a very heavy heart and thousands of thoughts, I pushed myself to drive back home. The day went quiet as India lost the second test match and the series to the Proteas. I could feel how millions of Indian fans would be going through. Let down, dejected, angry and emotions flowing all over. I called Shams and to my anticipation, he too was feeling the same. In no mood to discuss cricket further, I didn’t have much courage left to ask him the obvious question, yet I gathered myself and asked, “When is 3rd test starting?” An awkward silence that was created for 30 seconds, broke with his firm reply – “From 24th January”.
I said “ok…Let me call back in sometime”. As I started driving and tune into FM (which is usual) there was this song playing ‘Stand by you’. I called up Shams again and said “Everyone is criticising the team for the poor show. Do you still believe in this team?” I knew the answer but somehow wanted to check. In came reply “Yes very much”. The background music ‘Stand by you’ suddenly sounded loud and clear. The self-belief started building once again. We may be certainly down, but not out. Don’t write us off. Fortune favours the brave. Fighting back strongly is one of the trait of this current team.
A ‘Green Top’ at the Wanderers is waiting for the Indian batsman who will be found wanting. It will be grit and determination with which the Indian batsman will have to play to shoo off the demons and the critics. We are very much sure that the team selection will be done on the basis of the requirement and not due to non- cricketing reasons.
Our bowlers are doing a commendable job and as MS Dhoni rightly said Test cricket is all about taking 20 wickets and batting for longer sessions. We are accurate on former, have to work on the later apart from not making silly mistakes. In both tests, we have witnessed that the basics of cricket were not followed. Dropping catches, run-outs and sloppy fielding are considered as crime. But that’s what test cricket about.
The batting and fielding department will have to make amends. The batsman will have to value their wickets, and will have to refrain from playing any false or loose shot, making the South African bowlers toil hard to earn their wicket.
Nothing to take away from the South Africans who scored on all aspects in both tests matches and will be really pumped up for a white wash.
Virat & Co – Lot has been written and spoken about the team’s loss and the way team has played. All we need is a strong fight back. Winning the third match is the only way to salvage the pride. This is not the end of the road. All teams have one through this and our team is no different. It’s just a learning curve and we will sail through.
Signing off by cheering loud -We stand by you!
Not many so-called Cricket Crazies will notice, that the Mumbai Cricket team is playing it’s 500th Ranji Game today. Many who would read this statement would ask, “SO WHAT?”
And for that, I am feeling elated to be born in Mumbai, and having learnt what little cricket I have played, in Mumbai. Though I wasn’t fortunate to play much competitive cricket in the megapolis, still my attachment with the Mumbai Ranji Team remains. I feel euphoric every time Mumbai wins the Ranji Trophy, and shed a silent tear when they lose. At the cost of being territorial, I still say, that the best Cricket culture in India, is still in Mumbai.
In the crowded International schedule of Cricket, my eyes still spot the minute abridged scores of Mumbai team in Domestic tourneys very keenly. As I write this piece, Mumbai has been shot out by Baroda for a mere 171 on the first day of the 500th game, but still somewhere in my mind, the avid Mumbai fan is screaming, MUMBAI WILL BOUNCE BACK IN THE GAME. There are two teams, which I have never ceased to love in my cricket following life, Mumbai and the West Indies irrespective of they are winning or losing.
I followed the Mumbai Cricket team in their full pomp, through their lean patches, and through thick and thin. There was a time when Wadekar, Engineer, Gavaskar, Vengsarkar were on national duty, the second-string Mumbai side was also good enough to win the Ranji Trophy. Ghulam Parkar, Ramnath Paarkar, Alan Sippy, Lalchand Rajput, Guru Gupte, Chandrakant Pandit, Vinod Kambli, Praveen Amre were good enough to win the National Championship Final consistently. Not many teams can boast of having won the National championship of a game for one and a half decade on the trot, as Mumbai did from 1958-59 to 1972-73.
This was not achieved by fluke. The commitment of Mumbai Cricketers to their game has been exemplary. The team takes excellent care of their budding talent exceptionally well too, affording maximum exposure. A 14-year Sachin Tendulkar was made to share his room in the first season with the veteran Suru Nayak, who kept a close watch on the teenager, ensuring that he ate well, got a good sleep, and was in best shape mentally and physically all the time, even if he didn’t play a single Ranji game that season. A Prithvi Shaw, who now has set the Indian first-class scene ablaze with a string of centuries is also being closely followed by the Mumbai fans for the last 8 years, and so was Rohit Sharma when he was virtually unknown. Not only the selectors, but the fans too have a keen eye for talent in Mumbai. They do not get awed by Arjun Tendulkar’s inclusion in Mumbai U19 just because he is Sachin’s son, or by the one-time feat of Pranav Dhanawade, who scored above 1000 runs in a single knock. They value consistency, and are not excited by flashes in the pan. The fans too are “Khadus” like the players, and that is the essence of Mumbai Cricket. No quarter given, no quarter asked for!
And the players whom the fans adore, don’t disappoint them too. There is Sudhakar Adhikari, who had a match scheduled for the wedding day, asked the pundit to get him married at 9am, reported for the match at 10 am, scored a century in the match, and was again on the stage for his wedding reception in the evening. Such was the confidence the Mumbai batsmen over the years have instilled in the team, that in the 60s, when Mumbai captain won the toss and elected to bat at Brabourne, the tail enders would go to the nearby Eros or Regal theatres to catch the matinee show. No wonder that the gods of Indian batsmanship have consistently reincarnated themselves in Mumbai. Vijay Merchant, Vijay Manjrekar, Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar, and now young Prithvi Shaw. They were all not always as flashy as a Kohli or a Sehwag, but you could depend on them for your life. They would sell their wickets dearly, and compromise playing to the galleries in the interest of the stability of the team.
When we talk about batsmen, it would be criminal not to mention the bowlers. Though a few in numbers, these bowlers played a huge part in the Mumbai dominance in Ranji Trophy. Ramakant Desai, Subhash Gupte, Zaheer Khan, Ajit Agarkar shone for the national team too, but it was the prodigal and unheralded Padmakar Shivalkar who was the true spearhead of the Mumbai bowling attack. Though generally the Mumbai Cricketers are not too good as fieldsman, Eknath Solkar, the best fielder the country has produced is from Mumbai. Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane have been excelling in the fielding in the current generation, but there is a huge void in between. Not having a brilliant fielding side has been the only chink in the Mumbai side, but the sheer batting abilities of the side has hidden the flaw very beautifully.
My Personal Favourites:
Bowler : Padmakar Shivalkar – The silent assasin
Batsman : Sunil Gavaskar – The Rock of Gibraltar
Fielder : Eknath Solkar – Quicksilver Hands, gazelle footed, And the scourge of Geoffrey Boycott
Wicketkeeper : Farrokh Engineer – A lot of Style, and with Substance.
Umpire: Madhav Gothoskar – When the finger went up, it was never crooked. The fairest of judges !
When any team in the nation faces Mumbai, they well know that they are up against the most clinical sides in the game, always equipped with tricks and full of abilities. The Mumbai side is like a crouched tiger always.
After all, they have won the national title 44 times out of 67!
Kudos to the Khadus Mumbai Cricket team !!!
Special thanks to Sanjeev Sathe , who is an avid cricket fan and a dear friend of ours for contributing this wonderful article
ऑस्ट्रेलिया के खिलाफ पहली टेस्ट में धूल चाटने के बाद, विराट कोहली की टीम इंडिया के होश अब ठिकाने आए होंगे, और वे सब अभ्यास में जुट गए होंगे, ऑस्ट्रेलिया को उतनी ही करारी मात बेंगलुरु में देने के लिए. हम फैन्स की हालत भी टीम इंडिया से कुछ अलग नहीं है. अब फैन्स तो मैदान में नहीं उतर सकते, तो चलो हम फैन्स अपना ढाढस बंधने के लिए नज़र डालें उस कारनामे पर, जो भारत के खिलाडियों ने ऑस्ट्रेलिया के टीम के खिलाफ कर दिखाए थे, मैच तो नहीं जीत पाए, मैच हारे भी पर दर्शकों का दिल जीत कर.
महाराष्ट्र में सांगली के पास एक छोटी सी रियासत थी – ‘जत’. राजा साहब क्रिकेट के बड़े शौकीन. ऑस्ट्रेलिया के मशहूर लेगस्पिनर क्लेरी ग्रिमेट को २००० पौंड की बड़ी रकम देकर उन्होंने खुद को और अपने छोटे भाई को कोचिंग देने के लिए अपनी रियासत बुलवाया. जत के एक २३ साल के लड़के को ग्रिमेट ने हाथ में बल्ला थमाया, और कुछ स्ट्रोक्स खेलने को कहा. उस लड़के ने कुछ स्ट्रोक्स हवा में खेले, और उसकी शैली देखकर प्रभावित ग्रिमेट ने उसे बल्लेबाजी के गुर सिखाने शुरू किये. १९४६ में वह लड़का इंग्लैंड के खिलाफ भारत की तरफ से खेला, लेकिन ज्यादा रन न बना पाया. हालांकि, वह तेज़ गेंदबाजी के सामने निडरता से खड़ा रहा, और यही बात उसे १९४७- ४८ के भारत के ऑस्ट्रेलिया दौरे के लिए चयनित होने के लिए काफी थी. रेमंड लिंड्वाल, कीथ मिलर, एर्नी तोशैक यह ऑस्ट्रलियाई तेज़ गेंदबाजों की तिकड़ी उस वक़्त दुनिया के सारे बल्लेबाजों को अपनी तेज़ गति गेंदों से भयभीत कर रही थी. ब्रैडमन, मोरिस, बार्नस्, हैसेट, मिलर का बैटिंग लाइन अप भी दुनिया का सबसे बेहतरीन था. पहली ३ टेस्टों में ऑस्ट्रेलिया भारत को पराजित कर चुका था. भारत को नौसिखियों का दल माना जाने लगा था. चौथा टेस्ट एडिलेड में खेला जाना था, जहाँ के ग्रिमेट रहनेवाले थे. अब तक उस लड़के ने कोई बड़ा स्कोर टेस्ट क्रिकेट में नहीं किया था. पहली पारी में ऑस्ट्रेलिया ने हैसेट और बार्नस् के शतक, ब्रैडमन के दोहरे शतक और मिलर के अर्धशतक के दम पर ६७४ का विशाल स्कोर खड़ा किया. भारत की पारी शुरुआत में लड़खड़ाई, और उनके पहले ३ विकेट मात्र ६९ के स्कोर पर पतित हुए. लाला अमरनाथ का साथ देने वह लड़का मैदान में उतरा, और स्कोर १२४ पर पहुँचने पर लाला अमरनाथ भी आउट हुए. गुल मोहम्मद भी ज्यादा देर न टिक पाए. उनके आउट होने पर एक और कोल्हापुरी नौजवान मैदान पर इस जत के लड़के के साथ बल्लेबाजी करने उतरा, और दोनों ने मिलकर ऑस्ट्रेलिया के सारे गेंदबाजों की जमकर धुनाई की. दोनों ने १८७ रन जोड़े, और ३२१ के स्कोर पर जत का लड़का ११६ रन बनाकर आउट हुआ. कोल्हापुरी लड़का खेलता रहा, और उसने १२३ रन बनाकर भारत का स्कोर ३८१ तक पहुँचाया और भारत की पारी सिमट गई. जत के इस लड़के का नाम था – विजय हजारे और कोल्हापुरी लड़के का -दत्तु फड़कर.
ऑस्ट्रेलिया ने भारत को फॉलो ऑन दिया, और भारत के दो विकेट शून्य के स्कोर पर चटक गए. हजारे बल्लेबाजी करने उतरे, और तीसरा विकेट भी जल्द ही ३३ के स्कोर पर आउट हुआ. इस बारी हजारे और कर्नल हेमू अधिकारी को छोड़कर और कोई विशेष प्रभाव नहीं दिखा पाया, और भारत की पारी २७७ पर सिमट गई, जिस में हजारे ने शानदार १४५ रन बनाए और हेमू अधिकारी ने ५१ रन बनाए. भारत एक पारी और १६ रन से यह टेस्ट तो हार गया, लेकिन हजारे, फड़कर और अधिकारी ने ऑस्ट्रेलियाई क्रिकेट प्रेमियों के दिल जीत लिया, और भारत को भी अंतर्राष्ट्रीय क्रिकेट खेलने के काबिल माना जाने लगा. मैच ख़त्म होते ही ग्रिमेट ने हजारे को अपने घर ड्रिंक्स पर आमंत्रित किया, और उनके लिए टोस्ट उठाते हुए कहा, “Vijay, a toast. You have made me a proud man today.”
Special thanks to Sanjeev Sathe for contributing this article.
Back in 2001, Australia visited India being undefeated for 16 matches. They were already dominating the world and entered India with the quest to conquer fortress.
However, their winning juggernaut were brought to a halt by Ganguly & team.
Under the captain ship of Kohli, the number 1 test team in the world – team India were undefeated for 19 test matches until Smith & co; Company spoiled the party for India by defeating them hands down in all departments in the first match of the test series in Pune.
It was shameful for India to see how the Aussies dominated with the ball on the conditions tailor made for Indians. Though there were few eyebrows raised on pitch conditions before start of play, but the way Indian team performed, specially with bat shows lack of character and maybe sign of over confidence where they were basking on past glory.
The score for 105 in the first innings and 107 in the second innings are not even the scores that can be considered for T20 matches, forget even worth considering for Test match. Drop catches, waste of reviews added salt to the injury.
In first innings, India could negotiate only 40 overs before succumbing to the spin twin of Australia. In second innings, the Australian bowlers wiped out India in 28 overs. This clearly indicates that India batted effectively for only 2 sessions, helping to wrap up test match within 3 days. Though chasing 440 was a mounting task, but team India didn’t show any sign of fighting back or even holding on the fort for a draw.
The star of the match was O’Keefee with 12 wickets in a match, 6 wickets per innings. In the post-match press conference, Kohli was prompt enough to mention that bowlers who were turning ball went wicket less, while the one without turning the ball bagged maximum wickets.
The only positive thing that came out was that the team will bounce back from the first delivery.
The fans expect team India to play positive in the second match starting from 4th March 2017, and we hope that team India will not cut a sorry picture for the fans.
For a combination of reasons, India’s fifth Test series in the West Indies fell disappointingly short of the hard-fought drama of the previous two, in 1971 and 1976. Rain, which affected every Test in varying degrees, made the third meaningless. West Indies won two of the other four and had the better of the two drawn matches. At no stage of any match were India in a position to win, although the West Indian bowling often lacked the penetration which has become its hallmark.
India arrived direct from a trying series in Pakistan, in which they had been badly beaten. The consequence of their defeat was the replacement of their long-standing captain, Sunil Gavaskar, by the dynamic all-rounder, Kapil Dev, besides a number of other critical team changes, notably the exclusion of Gundappa Viswanath, after 89 Tests, and the left-arm spinner Dilip Doshi. Though, Jimmy Amarnath continued his fairytale comeback in this series with 2 centuries and 4 fifties, and extended it to the 1983 world Cup !
The new combination was ineffective. West Indies won the first Test, following a thrilling final session in which India lost their last four wickets for 6 runs and West Indies then reached the 172 runs they needed in the last over of the match. India’s spirits were revived by a courageous second-innings battle which saved the second Test, an unexpected victory in the second of the three one-day internationals and a return to form of Gavaskar, who compiled his 27th Test century in the truncated third Test. Lord Realtor’s calypso was played for the last time on West Indian Grounds then. Gavaskar, though attributes the credit of this knock to Yashpal Sharma’s “tutorship”.
Gavaskar’s performance, however, was only a temporary reminder of what he had achieved on his two previous tours, and the series was decided with a massive West Indies victory in the fourth Test in Bridgetown where conditions were ideally suited to the West Indian fast bowlers. The Indian captain and manager complained after that Test of intimidatory bowling, a charge which did have some merit although the umpires had not felt obliged to intervene. The umpires’ attitude may have been conditioned by the magnificence of Mohinder Amarnath, who, far from being intimidated, hooked and cut with certainty.
The fine form Amarnath showed there continued with centuries at Port-of-Spain and Antigua, two vital innings of 91 and 80 when all others around him were falling in Bridgetown and a final aggregate of 598 Test runs (average 66.44). During his innings of 90, his teeth were knocked by a Malcom Marshall bouncer, and he had hooked the next ball from Marshall out of the ground for a six! Such courage! His choice as Benson and Hedges Man of the Series was obligatory. No other Indian passed 300 for the series, Gavaskar being the major disappointment with no score above 40 except for his Georgetown century. Six times in his nine Test innings he was caught behind the wicket, although he was not alone in this, the West Indian wicket-keeper and slips being kept busy throughout.
India’s bowling was limited. While Kapil Dev was never less than the quality fast-medium bowler he was known to be, in West Indian conditions the medium-paced swing of Balwinder Sandhu and Madan Lal was inadequate support once the ball had lost its shine. Venkataraghavan, then 38, experienced, bowled steadily on his third West Indian tour, as did the two orthodox left-arm spinners, Ravi Shastri and Maninder Singh. Shastri developed as a batsman, scoring a century in the final Test. He went on to be a stoic opener for India for a decade thereafter.
India’s wicket-keeper, Syed Kirmani, dropped catches at critical stages in the second and fifth Tests, helping West Indies to total 394, 470, 486 and 550 in successive innings. One more great, on a downslide!
The first seven in the West Indian order all scored centuries in the series. None better than Gordon Greenidge, whose daughter was in the hospital, in coma, while he scored 154 not out. One of these was the only new batsman introduced by West Indies in the series, Augustine Logie, a stroke-playing right-hander from Trinidad. He managed only 37 in his five other innings.
With the exception of Lloyd and the fluent wicket-keeper-batsman, Jeffrey Dujon, no West Indian batsman was at his best throughout the series. Nor were two of the leading bowlers, Michael Holding and Joel Garner, both of whom were obviously feeling the effects of demanding seasons in Australia, where Holding, still not recovered from the effects of a knee operation the previous year, played for Tasmania and Garner for South Australia. Holding only occasionally reached his fastest, while the giant Garner, who complained of fatigue, eventually lost his Test place. It was left to Marshall, generating tremendous pace and hostility mainly from round the wicket, to spearhead the West Indian attack. He was on his ascent to become the greatest Right arm fast bowler the sport has ever seen. The 32-year-old Andy Roberts, with clever change of pace, made an ideal foil. As India batted comfortably to draws in the second and fifth Tests on slow pitches, the West Indian policy of concentrating purely on fast bowling to the exclusion of specialist spin was again brought into question.
Even without playing to their full potential, West Indies were vastly superior to India in both the Test matches and the one-day internationals in this tour. They won the Test series of four matches 3-0 and made a clean sweep of the overs-limit rubber of five. From the Indian viewpoint, the tour was one of the most disastrous they have undertaken. Even outside the Tests, they were sometimes embarrassed and failed to win any match at any level.
The opening Test in Guyana was washed out after only two days’ play. Guyana Washouts were becoming customary in Indian tours to West Indies. As it stood at its premature end, however, it seemed certain to be drawn, for the Bourda pitch was extremely slow. The remaining Tests were won by West Indies by the overwhelming margins of eight wickets, 217 runs and seven wickets. The curious feature was that India, whose bowling was, overall, below accepted Test standards and whose fielding was deplorable, dismissed West Indies in the first innings of every Test – though never for less than 300.
West Indies’ shortcomings, such as they were, could be largely attributed to feeling jaded after major tours of England and Australia which took place in close succession. And no sooner were their players back from Australia than some went straight into the domestic season. There was talk before the start of the series that the West Indians might want for motivation, but once the international matches were under way, it never looked as if their commitment was anything but whole-hearted.
The strain of past campaigns told most on Viv Richards, the captain. It was not until his last innings in the series that he made his only century. In the previous four innings, his scores were 5, 1, 19 and 0. Gordon Greenidge played innings during which he looked as destructive as ever, but his consistency fell below his own standard. The rich vein of form that Desmond Haynes struck in Australia remained with him and was evident both in the one-day internationals and the Tests. However, the mainstay of West Indies’ batting was Richie Richardson who, after a lean season in England, had touched high peaks in Australia. Not only was he hard to dislodge, on his home pitches, but he played the spinners with more authority than in his previous encounters with India. Richardson scored 619 runs in seven Test innings, including 194 in the First Test and 156 in the last, besides other 50-plus scores of 93, 59 and 99. If less consistent, Gus Logie always batted impressively, particularly when West Indies were in need of a steadying hand.
Of the bowlers, only Curtly Ambrose, tired and ill for a time, did not measure up to expectations. Malcolm Marshall, despite missing the First Test, was the main wicket-taker with nineteen dismissals, eleven of them in the Third Test, in Trinidad, on what was really a spinners’ pitch. The top Indian wicket takers were Krish Srikkanth and Kapil Dev, with three wickets apiece, and that tells the sorry tale of Indian Bowling. Surprisingly, the top West Indian Wicket taker was Vivian Richards.
Courtney Walsh bowled tirelessly and always seemed to have a deadly quicker ball in reserve. He was only one wicket behind Marshall. Ian Bishop, a newcomer, took sixteen wickets and played a part which could not be measured in statistical terms alone Bishop touched high levels of pace and also moved the ball menacingly. Not only was he remarkably accurate for a bowler so inexperienced, but also he was tactically resourceful. His mastery over Dilip Vengsarkar, whom he constantly had groping in the region of his off stump, was a crucial factor in the balance of power, West Indies’ fielding betrayed no signs of the tiredness of mind and body that was claimed on their behalf.
For the first time since his retirement, India truly felt the absence of Sunil Gavaskar. They were immensely unlucky with the weather on the early part of the tour, and they also suffered harshly from injuries. The intervention of rain on the third day of the First Test was the start of a wet spell which affected the whole Caribbean region and permitted just over a full day’s cricket before the Second Test. Already, prior to the start of the series, India had lost the services of Krishnam Srikkanth, valuable for his experience as well as for his ability to carry the attack to the bowling. His tour ended in the last one-day international when his forearm was fractured by a ball from Bishop. Srikkanth had shown signs of good form from the first match of the tour. From the Second Test onwards, there was a continuing deterioration of a long-standing groin injury carried by Mohammad Azharuddin. That the problem became so acute as to reach crisis proportions was as much the fault of the player himself as of the Indian Board for allowing the injury to remain untreated for over a year. The other experienced batsman in the side, Vengsarkar, was completely undermined by Bishop and, unquestionably, was weighed down by the demands of captaining an inadequate side.
Although Navjot Singh Sidhu recorded the highest score by an Indian on tour, 286 against Jamaica, and followed it up with a brave century in the final Test, the outstanding Indian batsman of the tour was Sanjay Manjrekar, who scored a maiden Test century in the Bridgetown Test. Reported to be the last man selected for the tour party, Manjrekar had earned his Test place by scoring 109 against the Under-23s in his first innings of the tour. He headed the aggregates and the averages for the series, but more than that he caught the eye with his judgement of direction and his technique of playing fast bowling. Sidhu’s success was achieved more by keenness of eye than mastery of technique, the most obvious imperfection being an initial backward movement of the right foot. The only other century scored for India in the series was a fighting 107 by Ravi Shastri in the second innings of the Second Test, at Bridgetown.
The outstanding Indian bowler was Kapil Dev. His tally of eighteen wickets in the series, at a very respectable average of 21.38, did less than full justice to the skills he showed in conditions not best suited to his pace. Chetan Sharma, his new-ball partner, was brave at heart and took useful wickets, but too often he bowled a bad ball. The two seam bowlers in reserve, Sanjeev Sharma and Robin Singh, who played in matches outside the Tests, were out of their depth.
The most disappointing aspect of the series was India’s inability to take advantage of a turning pitch in the Third Test, at Port-of-Spain. Their failure and their rout underlined the decline of the art of spin bowling in a country where it abounded only a few years earlier, thankfully it was revived in a decade’s time. Of the three Indian spinners, Arshad Ayub, the off-spinner, was the most successful. But his chief merit was steadiness. Shastri’s left-arm spin earned moderate rewards, and the leg-spinner, Narendra Hirwani, failed by a long way to live up to the reputation gained from taking sixteen West Indian wickets in his maiden Test and twenty in the only other three he had played since. As expensive as he was lacking in penetration, Hirwani was near to being dropped for the Third Test and, because of an injury, did not figure in the last. Apart from his own limitations, he suffered from lack of guidance from his captain and from his setting of fields, for which ridiculous can be the only fitting description.
The low standard of fielding, mentioned, included the wicket-keeping of Kiran More. As captain, Vengsarkar could not inspire his team either by personal performance or by force of personality. Yet at the end he publicly denounced his side as lacking courage and sense of purpose. In truth, the team’s performance reflected a marked lack of class in its components. Nor did the touring side gain any credit for its conduct. Kapil Dev and Chetan Sharma staged the most unseemly displays of dissent, and the umpires were cynically under pressure.
In this respect, the West Indians were culpable also, and Richards’s reaction to an errant decision, although not directed at the umpire, sparked off a riot in the Fourth Test, at Kingston. The umpires indeed made mistakes, but a big enough proportion was in India’s favour to absolve them of any charges of bias.
Both teams had just lost their preceding series – West Indies in Australia, India in South Africa – so both had plenty to play for on India’s first tour of the Caribbean for eight years. In the event, they were thoroughly frustrated by the weather.
A potentially gripping finish to the First Test was spoiled by rain on the last day and the final two Tests were so reduced that not even two innings could be completed. The first two of the four one-day internationals were disrupted and had to be decided by the unsatisfactory arrangement of revised targets.
The quality of the cricket was also diminished by slow, featureless pitches in the first two drawn Tests, prompting pleas from both captains for something livelier. They got more than they bargained for at Kensington Oval in Barbados. The hard, well-grassed surface unduly favoured the fast bowlers, who took all but two of the 40 wickets, and produced an astonishing climax. India capitulated for 81 on the fourth day when they needed just 120 for their first victory in the Caribbean for 21 years. West Indies’ win was the only outright result of the series.
The exalted batsmen on both sides were seldom seen at their best. Sachin Tendulkar and Brian Lara had their moments, notably Tendulkar’s dominant 92 in the first innings in Barbados, Lara’s second-innings 78 off 83 balls in Jamaica and his more measured 103 in Antigua. More was expected of the world’s two greatest batting stars. The unofficial contest within a contest, to determine the better player, was unresolved. But Lara earned more points for his handling of the team in Barbados, to win his first Test as captain when Courtney Walsh was injured.
Carl Hooper faded badly after a typically elegant 129 in the First Test and Mohammad Azharuddin, who had made three magnificent hundreds in the preceding home and away series against South Africa, was so pathetically out of sorts that his best score in eight innings in Tests and one-day internationals was 40. He was dropped on his return home.
Only Shivnarine Chanderpaul, the 22-year-old West Indies left-hander, and Rahul Dravid, the solid young Indian, prevailed over the conditions to enhance their reputations. Chanderpaul, retained at the No. 3 position to which he was promoted above Lara in Australia, finally gathered the Test and one-day hundreds that had so long eluded him, maintaining his consistency while adding power and range to his strokeplay. He was unchallenged as Man of the Series, an award covering both forms of the game. Dravid, his opposite number at No. 3, was similarly reliable, if comparatively slow, and confirmed the favourable impression he had made since his debut in England the previous summer.
Even though West Indies secured both series, the Tests 1-0 and the internationals 3-1, the teams were well matched. West Indies enjoyed the better of the First Test and India the better of the Second but neither had the resources – nor, in India’s case, the confidence – to press home their advantage on pitches so sluggish they inhibited both batsmen and bowlers. The exciting scrap in Barbados provided a welcome spark but it was then extinguished by the uncooperative elements in Antigua and Guyana.
Both West Indies and India started with long-standing problems and finished with most unsolved. India were made to suffer for their heavy reliance on the penetrative fast bowling of Javagal Srinath when a recurring shoulder injury ruled him out of the game for at least six months after the first practice session of the tour. Their difficulties at the top of the order led to the revival of Navjot Singh Sidhu’s chequered career, the need for his experience over-riding memories of his tetchy withdrawal from the England tour less than a year earlier and his subsequent ban. Sidhu’s marathon 201 in the Second Test was a typically determined, single-minded effort. But whether, aged 33, he was the long-term remedy was open to question.
West Indies were no closer to finding a reliable opening pair either, and continued to play musical chairs with their wicket-keepers. The most encouraging development for each team was the emergence of a promising new fast bowler, Franklyn Rose for West Indies and Abey Kuruvilla for India. Rose, an athletic Jamaican well over six feet, had become so disenchanted with the game that he dropped out entirely the previous season. But his form in the Red Stripe Cup and injuries to other contenders gained him a Test debut. He was consistently West Indies’ most penetrative bowler. With Walsh and Curtly Ambrose in the twilight of their careers, his arrival was timely. Mervyn Dillon, another tall, sinewy fast bowler in his first first-class season, showed distinct promise in his two Tests, but it was disappointing that, once again, West Indies could find no room for one of their clutch of young leg-spinners.
Kuruvilla, on his first tour, was said to be India’s tallest-ever fast bowler at six feet six inches. He used his height, plus his control and variations of pace, learned under the early tutelage of Frank Tyson, to advantage. His consistency helped to compensate for Srinath’s absence and the fatigue that took its toll on the worthy Venkatesh Prasad. But the role of stock bowler fell to the overworked leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who sent down more overs and took more wickets than anyone one either side.
At the end, the indelible images were less of dashing batting or incisive bowling than of ground staff trying to dry swampy outfields by the antiquated method of sponges and buckets.
India had great, and realistic, expectations that their eighth tour of the Caribbean would allow them to break their wretched overseas record; they had not won a Test series outside the subcontinent since 1986 in England. They possessed a well-balanced team: Sachin Tendulkar remained the premier batsman of the day, supported by Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly and Shiv Sunder Das, all with Test averages above 40, and the exciting, if unpredictable, V. V. S. Laxman. Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh were two contrasting spinners maintaining a rich Indian tradition; Javagal Srinath was the second most successful fast bowler in their history.
In contrast, West Indies were going through difficult times. They had just been whitewashed in three Tests by Sri Lanka and two by Pakistan. Their main batsman, Brian Lara, had not played any cricket since fracturing his elbow in Sri Lanka four months earlier. Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh were no longer around to harass batsmen with their probing accuracy, and their replacements were mostly raw and untried.
When India took the lead with a hard-fought victory in the Second Test, at Port-of-Spain – the scene of their only two previous wins in the Caribbean – it seemed their optimism was not misplaced. But it did not take into account either their own antipathy towards the faster, bouncier pitches they would encounter in Barbados and Jamaica, or West Indies’ lingering resilience at home.
After their defeat, the West Indians quickly regained the psychological edge when their limited attack bowled India out for 102 on the first day at Kensington Oval, in Barbados, and Ganguly could not retrieve it. West Indies levelled the series, winning by ten wickets within four days, their seventh victory in eight Tests between the teams on the ground. They outscored India in a high-scoring draw in Antigua and confirmed their superiority by clinching the series in Jamaica.
The most surprising and disappointing aspect of the series was that Tendulkar and Lara were both below their best. Tendulkar’s 117 in the Second Test was more grafting than domineering; his 79 in the First and 86 in the last were more authentic. In between, he had three ducks (fourth, second and first balls) and an eight. Lara, hindered by immobility in his elbow, never gave a glimpse of the breathtaking form he had displayed in Sri Lanka.
Although almost every West Indian made a contribution, there were three stars. The captain, Carl Hooper, made 579 runs in the series, the first time he had passed 400 in a 14-year career; finally, he showed the hunger he had always been accused of lacking. Shivnarine Chanderpaul was just as prolific and even more single-minded: between Port-of-Spain and Kingston, he batted for 25 hours 13 minutes without being dismissed, a Test record. Merv Dillon recovered from an indifferent start to take 23 wickets and trouble the Indians with his aggression. Among the supporting cast, Ramnaresh Sarwan continued to establish himself at No. 3, although he had a knack for getting himself out when well set. Wavell Hinds and the wicket-keeper Ridley Jacobs both responded to their omissions from the early Tests with hundreds.
Dillon had support from Cameron Cuffy, whose 17 wickets cost only 22 runs each, while he conceded under two an over; the left-armer Pedro Collins, who dismissed Tendulkar in each of his three Tests; and a new medium-fast seamer, Adam Sanford. Born in Dominica but employed as a policeman in Antigua, Sanford was the first West Indies cricketer to be a direct descendant of the Caribs, the race which gave the region its name.
Although Laxman and Dravid aggregated over 400 and Ganguly and Tendulkar over 300 for India, there was virtually nothing above or below them in the batting line-up. Das and his three different opening partners managed one opening stand better than 19. The only hint of a wagging tail came in the run-glut in Antigua, where Ajay Ratra became the youngest wicket-keeper to score a Test hundred, aged 20 years 150 days.
The strain of bowling 212 overs, more than any of his team-mates, took its toll on Srinath. A spent force by the end of the series, he announced his retirement from Test cricket. Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra, two lively left-arm swing bowlers, showed definite promise and, with Srinath, took the critical wickets in the Port-of-Spain triumph. But they could not carry the attack on their own. Kumble and Harbhajan were not paired in any Test and, just as Kumble looked to be finding his best form, his tour ended; his jaw was broken while he was batting during the Fourth Test, though he emerged, head in bandages, to bowl 14 overs against doctor’s orders.
India did have the satisfaction of taking the subsequent one-day series 2-1, after the first two matches were lost to Jamaica’s unusually wet weather. But it was scant consolation for their continuing disappointments at Test level.
Until the penultimate day, India’s tour of the West Indies bore an uncanny resemblance to the previous two: high on expectation but low on productivity. This time, though, they ended it differently, scrapping to a victory that removed several monkeys from Indian backs. It was their first series win in the Caribbean for 35 years, since Sunil Gavaskar’s triumphant maiden series, and also their first major triumph outside the subcontinent since they won in England in 1986.
And so India made history – but only just. Two weeks into the tour, after romping to 18 wins in their preceding 24 limited-overs matches, they had fallen to pieces in the one-dayers; halfway through the Test series, having dominated seven of the nine days’ play, they were stuck at 0-0; twelve days later they clung on for a draw; and with just a week to go before their return flight, they collapsed in the first innings of the decider. They won largely thanks to one man, their captain Rahul Dravid who, on a dodgy surface, produced two great innings.
Beginning at the opposite end of the expectation spectrum, West Indies took several steps forward. Their one-day success, winning a significant series for the first time in 20 months, promised much for the future, and their Test team added a cladding of steel. Several senior players assumed mantles of leadership, and some exciting prospects emerged as well. But West Indies slipped up at the crunch, losing the series in one reckless session of batting in Jamaica.
They weren’t helped by issues that were constantly dragging them back. The friction between the West Indian board and the players over contracts regularly surfaced, reaching breaking-point midway through the Test series. And there was a subsidiary farce: having griped about team composition throughout the series, Lara discovered, on the eve of the final Test, that he had actually been made a selector a month earlier – but he never got the letter, and evidently no one had mentioned it. Furthermore, the pitches hardly favoured West Indian strengths – Lara’s remark about the Sabina Park surface appearing to have been prepared for the Indians summed up his frustration.
Nobody was sure of the series result until the last ball was bowled, but the action was not always riveting. Flat pitches, and occasionally flatter bowling, led to a formulaic series, with one team piling up the runs and the other trying to stay alive. Vacant stands, especially in the new venues of St Lucia and St Kitts, added to the dreariness. The football World Cup, most of which coincided with the Test series, was always going to be a major diversion, especially given Trinidad & Tobago’s debut appearance. In keeping with the mood of the moment, the cricketers slugged out a hat-trick of draws, then had a shoot-out at Kingston – one that both sides nearly messed up.
The weather often dampened spirits, too. Lara, whose critical press conference statements were a direct contrast to Dravid’s diplomacy, observed after his side was thwarted by the late-June rain in St Kitts: “There is no international cricket in the West Indies in February and March when the sun is out. We lost an entire day in St Lucia, and I don’t know why we are playing at this time of the year. It’s unfortunate that it’s been happening for the last four or five years.”
But in the one-day series, West Indies were spurred on by a comment from India’s coach Greg Chappell, taken out of context by the media. After they made a hash of defending 251 in the opener in Jamaica, Chappell said: “West Indies have forgotten how to win.” Lara later termed this “a sly remark” and said it had galvanised his side to fight back.
Strangely, the Indians – without the injured Sachin Tendulkar – struggled to adapt to conditions that were more subcontinental than traditional Caribbean. On slow pitches, against bowlers with canny changes of pace, they stumbled. India’s batsmen, starting the one-dayers on the back of a record 16 successful run-chases, underestimated the bowling, aiming to dismantle it rather than show the respect it deserved. Their fielding dipped alarmingly while West Indies’ gradually looked up. The most important factor was probably Dwayne Bravo, so impressive that he was already being tipped as a future captain. He kept surprising India – with four different slower balls, effervescent fifties and electric athleticism.
While they could get away with restrictive tactics in the one-day games, West Indies’ bowlers struggled in the Tests. When the conditions were congenial, as in the first innings of the first and last Tests, they dismissed India for 241 and 200, but, in batsmen-friendly conditions in between, conceded a total of 1,769 for 28 wickets. While India’s spinners accounted for 43 of the 72 wickets, West Indies had no one to turn to for turn.
That India won only one Test was largely down to their inability to finish games off. Not for the first time, the close catchers let them down, while the batsmen came a cropper when confronted with the moving ball. However, conditions rarely perturb Dravid, who towered over the rest with 496 runs. He had made winning contributions in victories in every country apart from South Africa (where India did not win a Test until December 2006) and New Zealand (where they last won one in 1975-76). In terms of getting his side results, Rahul Dravid is, unarguably, India’s greatest-ever batsman.
Special thanks to Sanjeev Sathe , who is an avid cricket fan and a dear friend of ours for contributing this wonderful article.