Thursday, January 11, 2007

Doing it the other way

Certification: No more cheap innuendos in this post.....(lest the title leads you to think otherwise)
I heard Sunny Gavaskar narrating this strange Ranji game a few weeks back. He was commentating in South Africa and Harsha Bhogle pressed him to share a word or two on the incident.

It transpired that to this date Sunny is mighty proud of having saved his Bombay side (he was skipper of 'Bombay', as Mumbai was called then) the humiliation of an outright defeat in a Ranji match by batting out the better part of an hour of the last day while Karnataka's Raghuram Bhat was making the ball talk. And why should he not be? After all Sunny - arguably the greatest right handed batsman in the world at one point of time - was batting left-handed that day!

He did it to smother Bhat's prodigious turn. "I thought I had no chance if I batted right handed," he observed in between deliveries during the Indo-SA test series. Reminds one of The Don, who once turned the batting order around in the 3rd test of a 5-match series that Australia were unexpectedly trailing 2-0, and thereafter turned the series upside down with his 'normal' batting.

Indeed it is a pity that players and skippers have not acted this imaginatively of late. I refuse to believe modern players and skippers are any less intelligent, or skillful. Perhaps the glare of media plants a few seeds of doubt even in the most creative minds. Rahul Dravid certainly betrayed quite a few such moments in South Africa.

Wait wait, let me confess before you point out: This Dravid connection is largely unrelated, except that he too is a top world batsman hailing from Sunny's part of the world and at this point of time he is also making a rare Ranji appearance. And Rahul is certainly facing less fancied opposition (Saurashtra) than Sunny's Bombay did in that match 25 years ago.

The last 2 paragraphs are rather ordinary concoctions included with the sole aim of wishing the much-maligned Indian skipper, a perennial favourite of mine, a Happy 34th Birthday on January the 11th. Here's wishing him an easier day at office than South Africa 2006-07.

Raghuram Bhat's take on that Karnataka-vs- Bombay match is worth going through. The gentleman, now the manager of Karnataka, reserves no less admiration for Sunny's feat than you or I.
"That cannot be forgotten. The ball was turning right angles on the day. I was just pitching the ball in the good length spot, because I did not know how much the ball was going to spin; sometimes I tried to bowl an armer and it turned," he said, in a freewheeling chat on the sidelines of the Karnataka-Saurashtra Ranji Trophy match.
"The ball was beating the bat and the only way to play on that day was to play left-hand and play forward and offer pad. That's how Gavaskar played and he really played well and saved the game for Mumbai. It was a great thing to bowl to him and the guts he showed in batting left-handed, for some 12-13 overs, was amazing."

No comments: