Thursday, April 5, 2007

Domestic(India) Cricket Matches -1979-1983

1. TN vs Karnataka in Bangalore-1979 November

It was a match I distinctly remember to this day for 2 reasons.

a.It was the first commentary match I heard in Kannada and that famous Kannada commentary term “ Solpa mattige thirugichendunna…”

I guess it was quite an opt repeated word then with so many class spinners…Venkat and Vasu Vs Chandra, Vijayakrishna and Raghuram Bhat.

b. On the 3rd day which was a Sunday, TN, which had given a 100 run lead to Karnataka on the first innings, had to fight out to save the match after a top/middle order collapse against Chandra and Vijayakrishna. I had a tense afternoon sitting thru the 2nd session in the garden of my Coimbatore house, listening to the frustrated Kannada commentators as Venkat and Vasu battled it out against these two classy Karnataka spinners. It was the first of several interesting encounters I was to listen to over the next decade between these two competitive teams.

Just for interest, Karnataka middle order comprised of Brijesh Patel (the most prolific batsmen then in Ranji cricket), GR Vishwanath, AV Jayaprakash(now Umpire) and Sudhakar Rao.

2. Tamil Nadu v Hyderabad in Coimbatore- 1982 January- My first Ranji match at the ground

It was the first Ranji match I watched. It was at the forest college ground in Coimbatore. I ran to the ground at 4pmish on Friday evening after attending school ( the forest college ground was under 1 km from my school). Hyderabad was all out on day one. I remember watching V. Shiv and TE batting out the last few overs that day. I may be wrong but I think V. Shiv got out to the last ball on day one to Arshad Ayub.

I also remember a very very boring 3rd day, when Hyderabad batted through the day…There were boos from the huge Sunday crowd….Time and again, our famous commentator Ramamoorthy would say ‘lunges forward in defence’. I was to watch Azhar too that day, who later shot into prominence with centuries in his first 3 tests as well as Arshad Ayub. Tamil Nadu won the match on first innings lead but my looking forward to good cricket from MV Narasimha Rao, Khalid Abdul Qayyum and Vijay Mohan Raj came a cropper…

This match was so dull, that I left the ground after tea in frustration.

3. Feb 1982 Pre Quarter final match- NP Madhavan’s century for TN against UP

It was just about the time NP Madhavan quit his IOB job and joined SVPB, Udumalpet. I had watched him play his first match for SVPB at the Forest College ground( I still remember me asking him, as a 10 year old boy, why he quit a Chennai based bank job to join an Udumalpet paper company).

NP Madhavan was my favourite cricketer for a long long time and was a role model for me –a very quiet cricketer, superbly behaved and a sporting cricketer.

He had got a chance to play for TN in the Knock out matches after having missed out on the South Zone league that season.

I was wary of UP as they had that prolific run getter in Sashikant Khandkar who it seemed would score runs every time he went out to bat, in those days. And true to form, he got a big hundred(actually close to a double hundred) but none else scored.

I was looking forward to Madhavan and he did not disappoint me that day. Along with S. Srinivasan (another player who would later turn out for SVPB in Coimbatore), he helped TN get out of trouble to give them the crucial first innings lead. Madhavan scored 125. Seena(as he was called by his team mates) also scored a century as the two put on a double century stand.
(TN lost the QF match against Delhi and this to this day has remained a question within me as to why TN could win over Delhi or Bombay in crucial knock out matches)

4. Karnataka Vs Bombay in Bangalore- Ranji Semi Finals – March 1982 - Gavaskar batting left handed- once again leaves a poor taste

It was a very strong Bombay team vs an equally strong Karnataka outfit. I went in for Karnataka. Yes I had that natural dislike for Bombay cricketers.

Gavaskar, Vengsarkar, Patil and Ashok Mankad against Binny, GRV, Brijesh Patel and Sudhakar Rao.

And yes, it was once again ‘Solpa Mattige Thirugichendunna’ - Raghuram Bhat and Vijayakrishna vs Shastri and Thakkar. Kannada commentators had a field day with their favourite term every time one of these spinners bowled.

Karnataka took the first innings lead easily thanks to superb knocks by Patel and Sudhakar Rao, but the interesting highlight of this match came on the last day, when Gavaskar batting in the middle order on that Sunday afternoon and fighting to save an outright defeat wanted to bat left handed….much to the shock of every one including the umpires…And as I can recall Sunny was booed off. As on several other occasions, Gavaskar left a very poor taste and despite all his runs, I never quite liked him.

5.Karnataka V Delhi 1982 Ranji finals –What a chase

This, to me, still is one of the most unforgettable chases in Ranji finals. I supported Karnataka and was happy after they had posted over 700 in their first innings. While Delhi had the best batting in Indian domestic cricket in those days(CPS, the two Amarnaths, the prolific Gurcharan Singh, Kirti Azad and the dashing Khanna), I was confident Karnataka would win especially with the presence of its double spin attack- Raghuram Bhat and Vijayakrishna. Delhi came back sensationally after having lost 8 wickets with still over 100 runs required.

Delhi showed why they were the best batting side of that time with Rakesh Shukla and Rajesh Peter putting on an unbroken century stand for the ninth wicket as they took the first innings lead. I listened through the final day and this partnership but it ended in disappointment as Karnataka lost. However, it was an inspirational partnership that I remembered for many years.

6.My famous cricket derby – SVPB v LMW

In the early 1980s, the LMW v SVPB match up was something I relished at the forest college ground in Coimbatore, the 1 ½ days super league matches. Ramakrishna Steel stood third those days.

SVPB had Peter Fernandez, NP Madhavan, M. Subramaniam( he is still playing in the Chennai league- 25 years after I first saw him there) and Nallaswamy in its ranks. In the mid 80s, SVPB emerged a much stronger team with players like Brijesh Patel, Sainath, and Robin Singh playing for them.

LMW had Kalyanasundaram-Kalli to his team mates- ( who I think is the only TN bowler to take a hat rick), Vaidynathan, Colaco, NS Ramesh and Natarajan.

Ramakrishna Steel had Rajendran as their best player- he was one of the most prolific batsmen in the league there.

I remember watching Kalli, lean and skinny, steam in on one Saturday afternoon on a wet pitch. He was a lovely bowler to watch and played in a very competitive spirit and yes he was quite quick. He was so aggressive that, on that afternoon, he pushed the umpires to start play while the two in the white coat and Peter Fernandez(SVPB captain) were not convinced that the pitch was fit to play.

While Kalli vs SVPB was one battle on the ground, there was another off the ground. Myself (a fiery SVPB supporter) vs Kalyanasundaram’s son(who also happened to be my classmate at school) and Vaidhyanathan’s son. They, for obvious reasons, were LMW faithfuls

Nirupama, Vaidhyanathan’s daughter (who later became quite a successful tennis player) used to come too with her brother and we used to play tennis ball cricket during the breaks.

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