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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sairaj Bahutule retires..... Sanjay Bangar too..


It is tough to break the cocoon and tougher to stay put at top… !  Sometimes playing for lesser fancied teams may not take you anywhere.  In a season when the greatest One day player to have played the game, the classicist Sachin Tendulkar retired and another great player nicknamed ‘the punter’ Ricky Ponting also called it a day…. ~ his retirement may not attract much attention.. still it is a news that  Sairaj Bahutule  has quit first-class cricket.  

It is an interesting piece of stats [courtesy cricinfo.com] that Sairaj Bahutule featured in six victorious Ranji finals for Mumbai.  This genial leg spinner played two Tests and eight ODIs.  A Mumbai player, he moved out to Vidarbha and captained the side last season.  He has been a very successful spinner in the domestic circuit, sad that he could not replicate the success at a higher level.  He is one among the 9 bowlers who have taken more than 400 wickets in Ranji trophy – a great achievement indeed.  Besides, Bahutule featured in six Ranji finals, all for Mumbai, victorious on all occasions.  In one of them, in 2003-04 he led Mumbai to the title, scoring a useful 92 lower down the order.  Though he did aspire for, he did not play for any of the IPL franchisee.  He will still be involved with Vidarbha this season, as a coach for the upcoming zonal one-dayers and Twenty20 competitions.

Over all he had 5 international wickets. Incidentally he made his debut at Chennai against the visiting Australians in Mar 2001.  I remember seeing all the 5 days of that test, which famously India won.  India won that series too, coming from behind losing at Bombay and winning at Kolkatta thanks to the epochal partnership between VVS Laxman and Dravid.   It was a perfect advertisement for Test at Chepauk.  On day one, visitors coasted along to 326/3 with Hayden remaining unbeaten on well made 147*; on day 2, they were all out for 391 and India closed at 211/1 with Shiv Sundar Das on 84 and Laxman on 59; India batted through the 3rd day and at close of play were 480.9 with Sairaj Bahutule on 4 and Nilesh Kulkarni yet to open account at the crease.  3 different left arm spinners played in 3 matches of that series and it was Mumbai’s lanky Nilesh Kulkarni’s chance at chepauk.  On the last day of the match, India had to make 155, survived some hiccups to finish winner losing 8 wickets in the process.  

Statistically, in the 1st – Hayden made 203; Waugh was out handling the ball; Ganguly opened the bowling with Zaheer Khan.  Harbhajan finished with 7 for 133; Bahutule had an ordinary 21-3-70-1.  Das opened with the left hander Sadagopan Ramesh; the opening partnership was worth 123 [84 & 61]; Laxman 65, Sachin Tendulkar 126, Dravid 81 all made runs, Sairaj Bahutule remained unbeaten on 21.  The wicketkeeper was Samir Dighe. 

In the 2nd Hayden and Slater gave a good start; both Waughs also played well, still Aussies were all out for 264 – Harbhajan had great figures of 8 for 84.   We were at the venue cheering for an Indian win, Das went early and there was good partnership between Ramesh and Laxman; at 76 Ramesh was run out; Tendulkar was out to a good catch by Mark Waugh – the bowling of Mcgrath, Gillespie, Miller and Warne applied pressure and suddenly Indians were 122/5 and 7 down for 135 – 20 to go; 3 wickets at hand – there was palpable pressure in the stadium…  a couple of hits from Sameer Dighe saw India through, in a tense finish.  

Meantime, another player has announced his retirement – it is Sanjay Bangar who has called it a day.  That brings the curtains down for a career that lasted over 20 seasons.  He announced this decision when his team Railways failed to qualify for the quarter-finals after defeating Bengal in their final Group A match in Kolkata.   

A very gritty player, Bangar played 12 Tests and 15 ODIs between 2001 and 2004. Besides playing a crucial role in securing Railways' maiden Ranji title in 2001-02, and then repeating the feat in 2004-05, Bangar was instrumental in converting the team from also-rans to serious title contenders in the domestic circuit. The man from rural Maharashtra, who shifted base to Mumbai only to pursue his dream of playing cricket as a teenager, had, thus, no regrets looking back at his career.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Jan 2012.

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