Mumbaikar

Yesterday, a star was born.

Not that we did not know about him earlier – he was the star of India’s junior cricket circuit. And the words we would hear from the Bombay media were of genuine appreciation – This kid is the next greatest to have come out of Bombay after Tendulkar. And after Gavaskar, only Tendulkar could be considered better.

Really? Only Gavaskar and Tendulkar?
You are saying … one minute. Hold on. Bombay. Seriously?

Ajinkya Rahane. Wasim Jaffer. Vinod Kambli. Ravi Shastri. The luckless Amol Muzumdar. Sanjay Manjrekar. Rohit Sharma. Heck, the Colonel himself – Dilip Vengsarkar.
You are saying that this kid is potentially better than them all?

That’s what they said. We, from the rest of India hid a smirk – those Mumbaikars always inflate the quality of their own. Sure, he must be good. But he cannot be that good.

He scored a 154-ball 134 in his first test innings. At 18 years of age. While opening the batting. With his partner having departed at 0. And having played technically correct cricketing shots all throughout.

His name is Prithvi Shaw. And you will hear more of him for the next decade and more.

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Recap: When West Indian Fast Bowlers Played in the Ranji Trophy

Asked this question at a quizzing forum. Good info, I think, so am sharing this again here:

Q.There were four of them. One was a quiet guy, who had a startling debut to his international career. Another was an apparent madman. The others turned out to be of a more academic vein, and after their cricketing days got over, one became a finance and accounting professional, and the other got into healthcare. What innovative cricketing experiment were the four of them a part of?

Lester King, Roy Gilchrist, Chester Watson, Charlie Stayers. The four West Indians who played in the Ranji Trophy in 1962-63.

The apparent reason to get the West Indian fast bowlers was to improve the Indian batsmen’s ability against genuine quicks. While that purpose was not achieved until recently, the four of them performed well. Lester King (who had previously taken five wickets in the first four overs of his Test debut, opening the bowling) played for Bengal. Roy Gilchrist played for Hyderabad, Chester Watson (who later became an accountant) for Delhi, and Charlie Stayers (the would-be healthcare professional) for Mumbai, for whom he took a six-for (and nine in the match) in that season’s Ranji final. I remember having read an interview of Pankaj Roy many years ago, when he described a heated exchange before the Quarter finals between Hyderabad’s Gilchrist (rather predictably) and Bengal’s King. Both took five-fors in the first innings. The match, though, was decided by Pankaj Roy’s centuries in both innings.

The scoreboard is an idiot?

Click here.

But it was just Bangladesh, you will say, when you reminisce about this innings five years from now. And when Ponting stops (I am guessing, at) 2 centuries less than Sachin at the end of his career, you will ask to take Sachin’s centuries (including this) against Bangadesh out of the equation.***

But.

But this is an innings of the top order. Not the best, but a very, very good knock.

*** Why is that needed, I ask? Ponting will remain a great, albeit someone who was never comfortable against off-spin, and comfortably shy of being a legend. Whatever the record books say, in my book, the three best Australian batsmen I have seen will always be Border, then Steve Waugh, and then Ponting.

All-time Bengal XI – Ranji Trophy & other domestic leagues

Pankaj Roy – of course.

Gopal Bose – poor, unlucky Mr. Bose. And he, as coach, gave the world Sourav Ganguly and a plethora of others.

Arun Lal – Heard on IPL… “a soft corner for Kolkata? Me? I am all soft for Kolkata”. Honorary Bengali. Features as walking into the Kolkata Metro Rail in ‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’.

Sourav Ganguly – as captain. But he would captain the all-time India team too.

Ashok Malhotra – Not as much a Bengal man as Arun Lal, but he contributed with bucketloads of runs…

Shyam Sundar Mitra – Oft forgotten. The older ones say, he should have been a mainstay for India. A 50+ average testifies. But nobody from Bengal were taken into the India teams those days.

Probir Sen – Khokon Sen played quite a bit for India. Khokon Sen made people laugh. And Khokon Sen was, like Tim Zoehrer years later, a reasonable bowler. Sambaran Banerjee and Deep Dasgupta can stake a claim too. Saba Karim was never from Bengal.

Barun Barman – Had speed. A rare commodity.

Utpal Chatterjee – David-da was named so after Alan Davidson, when he used to be a medium pacer. Should have converted to left-arm orthodox much earlier.

Shute Banerjee – What an injustice!

Soumen Kundu – Again, the older ones say that this leggie from days of yore was quite brilliant. A sub-20 average testifies.

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On second thoughts, how can I keep the second best Indian left arm spinner of all time out of the team?  Bye bye, David-da, welcome in, Dilip Doshi.

Zaheer Khan gets a Pfeiffer

And I am glad. I am a fan of Zaheer’s, pretty much the same way I used to be a fan of Srinath.

Take away the pretense and the glamour and the showbiz, and all you have left behind is just bat and ball. And in that game, these two, considerable-but-not-extraordinary talents both, had done good. Had done enough.

And Zaheer has a few miles more to travel. A few miles more to travel, now as the craftiest fast-medium bowler in the world.

If only he could learn to pick up tail-end wickets….