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The History Window: An Unusual Stop Over For India
India At Nottingham After Burning The Bridges
By S Zeyaur Rahman

The Indian itinerary in England has an unusual stop over. That is the small and picturesque Trent Bridge, where India has played only two test matches in the previous 14 visits. It is surprising as to why India did not play more tests at Nottingham, because Trent Bridge is after all a regular test centre and by all means, a good one.

India first played at Trent Bridge on its fifth tour to England in 1959, when the team under Dattu Gaekwad went to tackle the English side under Peter May. Despite 27 years in the Test circuit, India had achieved little of note. It had just about managed to register its first test victory, against New Zealand back home and was still searching for a victory abroad. Though the team had seasoned batsmen like Pankaj Roy, Contractor, Umrigar and Vijay Manjrekar, the bowling department was ill equipped to pose any real threat. Subash Gupte was the lone crusader, sometimes supported by the opening fast bowler, Ramakant Desai. Little wonder that they stood little chance against stalwarts like Cowdrey, Barrington and the captain May himself. To add, England had a world class opening bowler pair of Trueman and Statham which goes to show that the balance was heavily tilted in England’s favor.

It was the first time that India was playing a 5-match series ion England and as a matter of fact, the very first test of the series was scheduled at Trent Bridge, Nottingham. May won the toss and decided to bat first. His openers were surprised by the rookie Surendranath, who had reduced them to 29-2, which included the wicket of Cowdrey. Gupte had accounted for Taylor and England was not in a strong position at 60-3.

The stage was set for May to vindicate his decision and also salvage the English pride against an Indian side, which by all means was mediocre. He raked up a 125-run partnership with Barrington to set the tone. The middle order clicked well with everybody coming good. May lead the field with a hundred, where as Barrington, Horton and Evans got fifties. Gupte and Nadakarni did well to get the tail rather cheaply and England finished at 422.          

Even that proved too much for India. Except the opener, Pankaj Roy, no Indian batsman could stand up to Statham and Truman for long and they were skittled out for 206, 17 runs short of the follow on target. May had no hesitation in asking India to follow on, because neither the Indian batsmen posed any threat of compiling a huge second innings total, nor the spinners appeared to be menacing in the last innings.

May’s decision was spot on and his bowlers did the job wonderfully well. The pair of Statham picked up seven more Indian wickets to add to the six in the first innings and India fared even worse to be shot out for 157 and lose the match by an innings and 59 runs. That was an ominous beginning for the things ahead for India lost the series 5-0.

The next time India got to play at Nottingham was on the previous tour in 1996, when the team under Azharuddin stayed back after the World Cup to rattle sabers with Atherton’s team. India had lost the opening test in customary fashion but had recovered well after the debacle and the Sidhu Boycott to put up a decent show at Lord’s. All hopes were pinned on the third and final test where India would try to equalize the series.

Compared to the last outing, India did much better. The makeshift pair of Rathore and Monga was back early, but the debutant centurion Ganguly and the little master Tendulkar had put up a 255-run partnership, which was an overseas record for the third wicket for India. Ganguly became the third batsman to score centuries in his first two innings and Tendulkar looked set for a double century, but fell 23 short, which is his highest score abroad till date.

Azhar continued his wretched form but Manjrekar got 53 and Dravid missed a century for the second consecutive time to be out for 84. But they had done enough to put India in a position from where they could not lose the test. 521 is not a losing score. But the loss of valuable time on the second day gave rise to fears that there might not be enough time for a result at all.

Whatever hopes India had of winning the test and squaring the series after England replied strongly. Atherton and Hussain got hundred and with Stewart’s fifty, England were 360-1 at a stage. The test match and the series were only of academic interest now.  

In the end England managed a 43 run first innings lead and India had a little more than two session for batting practice. Manjrekar opened the innings but the only point of interest was Ganguly who was looking set for a third big score in as many innings. But he was out for 48 and after that Tendulkar played a lone hand of 74 as the team collapsed surprisingly for 211. But that was of little consequence by then and the match was called off, giving the series to England.

The History Window: The Lord Of The Cricket Ring - I
India’s Unsuccessful Pilgrimages To The Mecca Of Cricket
By S Zeyaur Rahman 

It is impossible to escape the clutches of history when one turns up at the Mecca of Cricket, Lord’s. Despite the resurgence and the aggressive onslaught from the sub-continent there is no denying the ambience and atmosphere at this venue. Cricket turns into a religion, a spiritual discipline and the devotees of the game offer tier obeisance to the best of there ability.

Lord’s has a special place in the history of Indian cricket as it was at this venue on June 25, 1932 that India played its first ever test against England. It has been a long journey since and in this article we take a look at the moment of birth of Indian cricket and also those occasions when the tie with the umbilical chord was restored.

The infant nation, India was under C K Nayudu, though there is story behind that and the English were under Douglas Jardine (of the Bodyline series fame) for the inaugural clash. Jardine decided to play first and India possessing a very capable opening bowler in Md Nissar made a wonderful start by reducing England to 19-3 before Jardine came up with a captains knock of 79. The legendary wicketkeeper Ames chipped in with 65 as England finished at a respectable 259, Nissar doing the maximum damage with 5-93. Four Indian top order batsmen got decent starts but none of them hung on for long and Nayudu’s 40 remained the highest contribution as India folded at 189 conceding a significant lead of 70 runs. Jardine played another crucial innings of 85 to take England to 275 and set up a target of 346 for India, which was certainly a tall order in those days. India were 5-83 and soon 7-108, looking set for a huge defeat. Unexpectedly Lall Singh and Amar Singh, playing as a bowler raked in a partnership of 74 runs before India ended at 187, losing the match by 158 runs. Amar Singh, coming at No 9 became the first Indian to score a test fifty during his innings of 51. With that the one match series ended and India had embarked upon its journey into test cricket.                       

India was given a three match series in 1936 and the first match was scheduled at Lord’s. This time India was under the Maharaj of Vizianagram, the man originally scheduled to lead India in 1932. Gubby Allen was England captain and proved to be a better host when he invited India to make the first use of the pitch. After a first wicket partnership of 62 runs, India collapsed to the guile of Allen and was all out for 147. Old timers still lament that India never had an opening bowling pair like Amar Singh and Mohammad Nissar. These two picked up nine wicket to bowl England out for 134 and clinch a 13 run lead for India. Allen was in his elements in the second innings, picking another five wickets to dismiss India for a paltry 93 runs. Only three Indian batsmen reached three figures and Hindelkar’s 17 was the highest. Chasing 107 runs for victory, the experienced Englishmen did not let it go and scored a comprehensive 9 wicket victory and India tasted its second consecutive loss at Lord’s.

The World War intervened and India’s next tour was possible only in 1946, when Nawab Pataudi Senior took his team to clash against Hammond’s England. Once again it was a three match series and the opener was scheduled at Lord’s. It was Bedser’s debut match and with figures of 7-49 he had indicated about the things to come. From 6-87 Indi ahad wriggled out to 200 only because of Modi’s 57 and 43 by Abdul Hafeez. By 1946, India had lost its fiery duo of Amar Singh and Nissar and as a result Englishmen ruled the roost raking up a total of 428, the chief contributor being Hardstaff Jnr with an innings of 205. The unorthodox bowler Lala Amarnath had done well to pick up 5-118. Facinf a deficit of 228 runs, India put up a better fight through Mankad and Amarnath to finish at 275, but not before Bedser had scapled another four wickets. But a target of 48 runs was too meager and England inflicted a ten wicket loss to complete a hat-trick at Lord’s against India.

India’s next trip to England was in 1952, when Vijay Hazare took on Hutton’s side for a four match series. This time India played its second test at Lord’s having lost the opener earlier. This match is a historic one as everything paled under the brilliance of one man and he has the unique distinction of having a test match named after him. This was the historic Mankad Test and this is why. Mankad scored 72 opening the batting for India and with Hazare’s 69 the team finished at 235. Hutton had a wonderful side under him and they were looking good enough to rout India. The captain lead from the front cracking 150. With one more century and three fifties, England finished at a mammoth 537 and Mankad had taken 5-196. Under a deficit of 302 runs, an innings defeat was the most likely possibility. Under these circumstances Mankad played a brilliant innings of 184 and with little support from No 9 Ramchand, averted innings defeat for India. India finished at 378 and set a target of 77 runs. England achieved that for the loss of 2 wickets and India’s run of losses at Lord’s continued unbroken.

Seven years later in 1959, India got the opportunity to play its first five match series in England. The team under Pankaj Roy geared up to tackle the English challenge under Peter May. This time also India got to play its second match at Lord’s and were already 0-1 down. The familiar story of a batting collapse on day one repeated itself. Contractor stood out with a defiant innings of 81 as India collapsed to 168. England did not fare much better. Ramakant Desai claimed 5-80 and England reached to 226 mainly because of Barrington’s 80. Starting 58 runs behind, the Indian batsmen came up with another inept display to score 165 runs, Vijay Manjrekar’s 61 being the lone saving grace. For the fourth successive time England had a low target to chase and they did it with minimum fuss as India recorded its fifth consecutive loss at Lord’s.                       

An eight year gap followed. In 1967 Nawab Patudi Junior lead the Indian team to face Close and his men. But this time India was offered a three match series. As per the new custom, the second test was at Lord’s and customarily enough, India was 0-1 down. The agonizingly repetitive story of batting collapses continues and India was bowled out for 152, even that score being made possible by Wadekar’s 57. Barrington’s 97 and Graveney’s 151 gave England a lead of 234. They could have got more had Chandra not pulled back five wickets. This time the India team could not even offer a token score for England to chase as they were bowled out for 110, losing the match by an innings and 124 runs.

Lord’s was proving to be a nightmare for India as they had lost six matches on the trot and things were looking from bad to worse. One was left to wonder if at all the losing streak would be ended. Forget about scoring a victory at this historic venue, India had so far not even managed a draw here in its 35 years of cricket, which had taken tham to this ground no less than six times.

All this was to change, though not radically, but the change was welcome. We will follow the course of the remaining six matches between India and England at Lord’s in the next part of the article.       

An Insignificant Stop Over For India
No Fond Memoirs Of Bourda
By S Zeyaur Rahman

The India West Indies series is all set to be renewed with the first Test at Bourda Oval, Georgetown. It may not be a very historic one for both the teams, but it is definitely going to be a very significant one. Both the teams are on a kind of crossroad and the outcome of the series will go a long way in determining the road ahead. Where the West Indies will be desperate to get back to winning ways, India will want to make their presence felt in foreign lands.

It is going to be a very well contested series as both the teams are more or less evenly balanced. On paper India look stronger but that gets neutralized by the home advantage that Hooper's men enjoy. Actually speaking, India's consistently dismal record overseas gives the home team an edge over their rivals. It will be really difficult for India even if there is a slight improvement in the standards of the host.

The first day of the series is going to be crucial as it is going to set the tone for the series. It is under this background that we take a look at the Bourda Oval where the drama is all set to unfold.

The Georgetown Cricket Club, located in the Bourda district of Georgetown is different from the remaining grounds in the Caribbean in more ways than one. Apart from Antigua, Guyana is the only country in the Caribbean which is not an island. Another factor that will be of great relief to the Indians is the fact that, contrary to the other battle grounds in the West Indies, the Bourda is supposed to be a batsman paradise. Though the pitch has grass on it, but like all the grounds elsewhere is has slowed down considerably and is helpful to spin. Both these factors should be more to Ganguly's rather than Hooper's liking.

The pitch is expected to last all the five days and will help batsmen, fast bowlers and spinners. One could not ask for anything more and given the odds at the stake, we are sure to have a great game of cricket.

For India and West Indies, this ground has not proved to be a significant one and there are not many great memories attached to it. May be India will be happy with the fact that they have not lost any Test here even in the hay days of the Windies. The same applies to the home team also as all the five test matches played between the two countries here have ended in a draw.

India and west Indies played at Georgetown for the first time in 1953, when the team under Vijay Hazare acme to challenge Stollmeyer's side. It was India's first tour to the Caribbeans and the Windies were yet to emerge as the indomitable force of world cricket. In fact it was only the second series between the two, the West Indians had visited India in 1948 for a 5 match series, and had won it 1-0.

India were yet to register their first victory against West Indies and they had not won a single test abroad. Vijay Hazare was hopeful that his batsmen, mainly Vijay Manjrekar, Umrigar and all rounder Vinu Mankad will be able to do the trick for his side. But that was a formidable task, because the West Indies, without being the world beaters that they alter became, had the services of the W trio in the bowling department and Valentine and Ramadhin in the bowling department. The Indians were already 1-0 down in the series having lost the second test at Bridgetown and it was the fourth test of the five match series.

Hazare won the toss and decided to expose his batting first so that he might test the W trio against Subhash Gupte in the fourth innings. The gamble did not work match because after being 47-0, the score was soon 5-64 mainly because of Valentine. Mankad hit 66 and number 9 batsman Gadkari got 50 to post a respectable total of 262, where as Valentine finished with 5 wickets. In reply, the W trio got their act together and when the score read 4-302, the Windies appeared to be running away with the match. Worrell got 56, Weekes 87 and Walcott 123 to take their side to an invincible position. Gupte claimed 4 wickets in quick succession to trigger a collapse and the hosts were bowled out for 364. India started 102 runs behind on the fourth day and with some help from the weather managed to draw. The weather had affected the match so much that the rest day was abandon and the test went on all the 6 days. But even on the final day very little play was possible and India finished at 190-5.

Bourda did not figure in the itinerary when India visited in 1961. It was only 19 years later that India and West Indies played each other at Georgetown and that was in the historic 1971 series, which continues to be a major milestone in the history of Indian cricket. Wadekar's team had created a sensation by winning the second test at Port of Spain and expectations were ripe for a strong reply by Sober's team, when the third test got underway.

Sober's won the toss and decided to make first use of the pitch, mainly to avoid the Indian spinners last, which had cost them dear at Port of Spain. All the batsmen in the top order made useful contributions but none went to make a huge score. From 8-256 it was left to the wicketkeeper Lewis to take the score to 363. The new found run machine for India Gavaskar, hit another hundred and inspired credible performance from his team mates and India ended up getting a 13 run first innings lead. Rain had interfered again and the Indian innings could be complete only on the fourth day. With little interest in the game left, Sobers used the opportunity for batting and compensated for his first innings failure by helping himself to a hundred. The Windies decalred at 307-3 ans set India a target of 295 with less than two sessions to go. Gavaskar and Ashok Mankad made merry in pressureless situation and when the match was called off, India had put on 123 on the board without any loss. Despite the rain interruption, it remains the only India West Indies test at Georgetown in which all four innings were possible and it remains to be seen if this time we will be able to have four complete innings.

Georgetown was once gain missing during the 4 match series in 1975-76. It was in 1983 that both the team met for the third test here. This time India were 1-0 down after losing the opener at Kingston. Lloyd was captaining against India at his home ground for the first time and he wanted he asked Kapil Dev to had a go at his batsmen. The fear of Indian spinners wrecking havoc was still there although India had only Venkataraghavan as a threat with 19-year-old Maninder Singh and Ravi Shastri as support cast.

Greenidge was out a little before close of play and along with Richards had taken West Indies to 259-5. No play was possible on the second day and the Windies innings ended up on the third day at 470, in which Lloyd contributed 81. The rain menace continued and the fourth day was a wash out. India batted out the last day to finish at 284-3. Gavaskar got his second century at Guyana and Vengsarkar had itched in with a well made 62 nad the result was once again a draw.

Richards was there to welcome the new Indian captain Vengsarakar in 1989 and this time the series opener was scheduled at Georgetown. Colonel won his first toss and asked the host to bat. Incidentally it remains the only occasion in India west Indies matches at Georgetown that a captain had sent in the opponent to bat after winning the toss. Richards was thankful for the opportunity and his side had piled on 437 runs before being bowled out, which is a record between the two teams at the ground. Richardson compiled his highest test score of 14 and had it not been for a 5 wicket howl by Arshar Ayyub, India was in for a tougher time. Sidhu was no more the strokeless wonder any more and India finished the second day at 86-1. Weather wrecked havoc with the plans and no more play was possible in the match in the next three days.

The last time India visited West Indies was under Tendulkar in 1997. This time the last match was scheduled at Georgetown. India were 1-0 down after the infamous loss at Bridgetown and it was the last opportunity for India to equalize the series.

Despite repeated failures by his batsmen Tendulkar chose to bat first mainly because he did not want another run chase for victory. Bridgetown was too close to memory to allow that and any score was too much for India. He and Rahul Dravid had taken India to 194-2 at the close of day one. It must have been really frustrating for Tendulkar to see the rains play spoil sport on day two and three. 194-2 was a reasonably good position to built a foundation for the all important victory, Play could resume only on the fourth day and India inched to 241-4 losing Tendulkar and Dravid, before rain interrupted again. Azharuddin got his highest score of the series that was 31 and his subsequent failure in the one dayers lead to his exclusion for the first time in well over a decade. India were all out at 355 and in whatever little time that was left, West Indies compiled 145-3.

That sums up the five test matches played between the two teams at Georgetown. None of them have been able to put the ground on fire and most of them find place only in the official history. The weather has been the single biggest factor that has denied any result so far. The forecast this time gives reason to be optimistic about a result. But the millon dollar question is that who will break the jinx at Georgetown.

Will it be 'Sir' Carl Hooper, as he is fondly called in his home town, or will it be the Prince of Kolkatta?
Over To Bourda Oval, Georgetown.

Is Robin Singh’s career over?
Singh might well have played his last game for India

By K. Srinavas Rao

Have we seen the last of Robin Singh? Should we see obituaries written about this merculiar cricketer? Robin Singh – the man who holds the record for playing most number of ODI’s before making his test debut for the country, the man who at the age of 38 can still be regarded as the fittest player in Indian Cricket, the man who with his never-say-die spirit has many a matches for India. Robin Singh has played most of his matches at No.6, the slot that has nowadays become a specialist slot for bits and pieces players or in technical terms a slot for an all-rounder.

All-rounders have nowadays become a part and parcel of any International Cricket team. Even if he is not a genuine all-rounder, the person coming in at No.6 would surely be a batsman who can bowl decently or a bowler who can bat well. These are the guys who come in at crucial times and turn the match on its head. The man coming in at No. 6 plays a crucial role for his team. He might come in at 220 for 4 in the 44th over where he is required to blast off right from the word go and set a healthy target for the opponents. He might come in at 16 for 4 in the 9th over where he has to bide his time and get the team out of trouble to put up a decent total. So, an all-rounder has to be a skillful player.

Robin Singh may not be talked about in the same breath as the other World Class all rounders like Lance Klusener, Shaun Pollock, Chris Cairns, Jacques Kallis, Sanath Jayasuriya or for that matter up and coming Ian Harvey, but still he can reckon to be the best in India. The problem with India is that, since the exit of the greatest all-rounder of one-day cricket Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri or for that matter Manoj Prabhakar, India has not been able to produce a genuine all-rounder of world class, which created a vacuum at that spot. But, Robin Singh, with some gutsy performances both with bat and ball has earned the respect of teammates and opponents alike.

Robin Singh has given quite a few amazing performances both with bat and ball at crucial times to back his claim of being an ideal No.6 for India. None better than the knock of 48 he got against Zimbabwe at Paarl in 1996-97 during the Standard Bank Tri-series also involving South Africa. India was dead and buried against the medium pace of Eddo Brandes chasing a decent target of 236. In came Robin Singh who along with No.10 Salil Ankola put on a great partnership with some great running between the wickets and some lusty blows. But, for the mistake of Venkatesh Prasad to run off a wide ball, India would have won the match.

The other innings which comes to mind is the knock of 82 against Pakistan during the final of Independence Cup in Dhaka in 1998.Chasing a mammoth target of 315 to win the best-of-three finals, India stumbled after losing Tendulkar who put on a great opening partnership with Ganguly. But, in came Robin Singh sent in as a pinch hitter at No.3 and turned the match India’s way with a match-winning partnership of 179 with some sensible running and great shots.

Seldom has one seen Robin not meeting the expectations of his captain or his fans. He never shirks from responsibility and always plays according to the situation. He has also performed pretty well with the ball although he has not been given enough opportunities. One gets the feeling that he has been under bowled in this version of the game because he has completed the full quota of 10 overs only on 12 occasions. Still, he has 2 five wicket hauls to his credit in ODIs. In fact, he has the best bowling figures by an Indian in a World cup match. As far as fielding is concerned, there is little doubt that he can be rated among the best fielders in the world. There have been cases, where he has turned the match India’s way by his sheer brilliance on the field. None better than the catch he plucked out of thin air to dismiss a well-set Ricky Ponting during the recently concluded ICC Knock out tournament 2000. Aussies kept losing wickets regularly
that and went on to lost the match to India.

Talking of temperament, there is no denying that he has no parallels on this account. After making his debut in ODIs against West Indies where he was brought up, and playing just 2 matches, Robin was dumped. But, he showed tremendous spirit and slugged it out in domestic cricket and gave some consistent performances during this period and forced the selectors to call him back for the Titan cup series in 1996 against South Africa and Australia. Since then, he has been a permanent feature in the One-day squad. One might feel that India had lost a tremendous asset for 7 long years and wonders what a difference he would have made to the team in that period!        
Robin Singh may cross 38 in a couple of months time, but he is still fighting fit and hopes to return to the Indian team and carry on playing till the World Cup 2003. Since the ICC Knock out tournament in November 2000 Robin has played only one game against the visiting Aussies. But, the way the selectors are keeping him out and blooding in youngsters like Reetinder Sodhi, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh keeping the World cup in mind, Robin might well have played his last game for India. Robin had age on his side when he made a comeback after 7 years in 1996, but this time he certainly does not have that. One might feel, the selectors who took seven long years to call him back act a little bit faster this time around. But, given his never-say-die spirit Robin will fight it out till the last ball is bowled.

One Step For Lords, A Giant Leap For Cricket

Have We Looked Before Leaping
By S Zeyaur Rahman

There is hardly any other more historical ground in the world than the Mecca of cricket, Lord's. As it is, it has enough of histories associated with it and another important link in the chain is going to be added when England meets Pakistan for the inaugural match of the World Test Championship.

This particular event is sure to satisfy the long overdue demand of cricket, i.e an official mechanism of determining the number one test team. But will the mechanism be successfully able to solve the problem is a different thing altogether.

Organising a test match World Championship had been in the pipeline for a long time. Because of the huge dimensions involved nobody had any idea abort the format and nature of the championship.

We are wrong if we were to assume that this is the first time that a round robin league of test matches is being organised. Way back in the 40's Australia, England and South Africa played each other in England. Those were timeless test and were possible only because of a smaller number of teams. It would be foolish even to think of bringing all the teams together now and asking them to play each other even once. That would surely last a year and at the end of it nobody would be in a position to play cricket for another 2-3 years.

From the 40's to 2001 is a long journey and there were various ingenious and informal parameters of judging the best team in business. After South Africa was banned, the Ashes was the de facto world championship. India and Pakistan never made a serious bid for the top slot despite some odd performances. The equation changed in 1976; when Clive Lloyd substituted Ashes with the Frank Worrel Trophy and went on to keep that for the next two and a half decades. Meanwhile New Zealand and Sri Lanka did exist but only on the fringes. In the mid 90's Pakistan emerged as a strong contender and towards the end of the decade, as South Africa matured, the race became more open.

The only means at the disposal of the cricket lovers was the Dalloitus (now the Coopers and Librand ratings), which at best was grossly inadequate. If statistics reflected the true picture of cricket, the history of the game would have been altogether different.

There were a number of proposal floated and rejected regarding a world series but this time the ICC has taken a plunge almost with a sense of desperation. It has to make test cricket more interesting and for that the first requisite is that it has to sustain whatever interest is left in test cricket. Otherwise the one-dayers have shook the game to the very foundations.

One of the fundamental problems or characteristics of test cricket is its propensity of resultless games which is a severe drawback in a heavily result oriented world. One has to sit through a game for five days and may not have a result at the end of it. Gone are the days when an interesting draw could satisfy people despite the fact that some draws are more engrossing than outright results. But the biggest problem is that how does one distinguish, decide and rate two teams if there is no result. All the points system being followed in the domestic championships of the test nations have some flaw or the other, some as ridiculous is the first innings lead system. It is seldom that the eventual champion is a well-deserved one. How is one to counter if such a scenario emerges on the international scene? That would comprehensively defeat the very spirit of the championship that is to find out THE BEST team.

Additional factors like home advantage pitch etc further complicate the matter. The idea of two countries playing each other at home and away is technically okay but the allowed time frame is four years. Now no two teams can be the same after a gap of four years.

There is also a provision of some particular test(s) in a series being the ones slated for the championship. What if the team winning the series loses that particular test? Then all the theory goes down the drain. In our quest for perfection we make as many rules as possible, which later turn out to be the millstones round the neck. And the result is a chaotic comedy like the 1992 World Cup.

Despite all the efforts at perfection a lot depends on chance. That is especially true of a game like cricket. The Test Championship, for all it is, is nothing but a hurried gamble and we can just hope that the ICC has called correctly.

The Debonair Debashish Mohanty
Mohanty’s Magic in domestic cricket  
By Vimal Kumar

If there is any bowler, who is making headlines after headlines in sports-pages in the domestic cricket, it is the medium pacer from Orissa – Debashish Mohanty. The mild-mannered medium pacer became the cynosure of all eyes on 25th January at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium at Agartala. The on-going four-day Duleep Trophy league match between East zone and South zone saw Mohanty doing an Anil Kumble. Yes, in one of the rarest exhibition of magnificent fast bowling in domestic cricket, Mohanty grabbed all 10 wickets of the South’s innings. Mohanty’s staggering figure was 19 overs, 5 maidens, 46 runs and 10 wickets.

Mohanty has been in fantastic form this season. Prior to this game, Mohanty, bowling with his characteristic enthusiasm came up with a figure of 6- 59 in the first innings against North zone at Guwahati’s NFRSA Stadium. One must say that he must have impressed the two selectors who were watching the game – T.A.Sekhar and Sanjay Jagdale. Although, East zone lost the match but Mohanty’s effort couldn’t be overlooked.

This season Mohanty is bowling with a refreshing attitude and his insatiable desire for more and more wickets is transforming him into a brilliant bowler. Led by Mohanty’s career best figure of 6-52 in the Ranji Trophy against Bengal, Orissa over-whelmed Sourav Ganguly’s team.

However, Sourav must be pleased to see the 24 year old from Bhubneshwar back to his best. It was the same man who was instrumental in winning the Sahara Cup in 1997 at Toronto when Sourav first led India. Along with the rookie Harvinder Singh and captain Ganguly, Mohanty had made life miserable for the Pakistani batsmen in a condition tailor made for swing bowlers. Infact, there were some spells when Mohanty was unplayable and particularly the Pakistani opener Saeed Anwar was baffled most. Anwar was unable to fathom whether the ball was in-swinging or out-swinging due to Mohanty’s unorthodox action.

Mohanty, who is a junior officer with National Aluminium company, has unfortunately, not been regular with the national team due to his inconsistency. There is not an iota of doubt that Mohanty can be a devastating proportion, where conditions are conducive for swing bowlers. At the risk of sounding exaggerated, he is the best swing bowler in India.

If India has the horses for courses policy a la Australia, then Mohanty must have been a certainty on the tours abroad. He toured Australia in 1999-2000 season but got least opportunities.

Mohanty, who made his Test-debut way back in 1997 at Sri Lanka at SSG, has a keen desire to be regular with the National squad. His idol is Javagal Srinath. For a brief period he was termed as “Next Srinath” by his team-mates.

Mohanty may not have played enough matches for India as he would have liked to, but he has made a world of difference to his state team. He was the first cricketer from Orissa to play in the national team and it was his sheer influence that likes of Sanjay Raul and Shiv Sundar Das got their chances to play for India. So, it was only in the fitness of the things when Orissa captain Shiv Sundar Das said that “they are carrying the legacy of Debashish Mohanty”- after his team’s victory over Bengal in the Ranji Trophy match.

For the upcoming series against Australia, he might not be given a chance, despite his tremendous effort because India’s weapon will be spin. But, after that India will tour Zimbabwe and South Africa in coming months, and Mohanty’s services will be just more than handy on those tours.



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