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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Test no. 199 for Sachin at Eden Gardens ~ some history & some statistics ... !

‘When man kills a tiger – he calls it a sport; but when the beast kills a man – he calls it ferocity !!’… Sure  have heard of Gladiator …. an armed combatant who entertained audiences in Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals ~ and these fights took place in Colosseum…. an elliptical amphitheatre of Rome. The Colosseum could hold, it is estimated, between 50,000 and 80,000 spectators, and was used for gladiatorial contests and public spectacles such as mock sea battles, animal hunts, executions, re-enactments of famous battles, and dramas based on Classical mythology.

At modern day Colosseum of Eden Gardens, Sachin is playing his 199th test and the team composition is such that the rest of 10 have aggregate of 198 Tests….  Rohit Sharma fresh from the euphoria of a double ton in ODI got his Test cap from Sachin, after having played 108 ODIs – getting the nod over Ajinkya Rahana.  Alongside also debuted Mohammed Shami preferred over Ishant..

There is a theory that this Series sprouted because India was not happy with the head selection in CSA as also they wanted a soft version timed up for the little master’s swansong……. Whatever it is – there is no storyline than the retirement and suddenly 199 has become a number to reckon. ~ not 149, the no. of tests played by Shivnarine Chanderpaul……

The Test is on at – Eden Gardens, the premier Cricket ground belonging to the Cricket Association of Bengal – established way back in 1864.  It is the largest cricket stadium in India and third-largest in the world by seating capacity. Often people say that 1 lakh people watched the match, though the official capacity is less…. During WC 1987 finals, there were reportd of 120 thousand people watching the match !! The stadium is located in the B. B. D. Bagh area of the city, near the State Secretariat and Calcutta High Court. The first recorded Test at the venue was held in 1934.  The  Club House of the stadium has been named as the B.C. Roy Club House, after former Chief Minister of West Bengal Dr. B. C. Roy.

Read that in 1946, an in-form Mushtaq Ali was dropped from the Indian team selected to play an unofficial test against Australian Services XI. Following crowd protests (with slogans like "No Mushtaq, No Test"), the selectors brought him back to play.  There have been incidence of rioting and unruly crowd behaviour on couple of occasions.   Could recall the Semi finals of 1996 WC – when Clive Lloyd awarded the match to Sri Lanka following crowd disturbance – Indians were hopelessly placed at that stage as Vinod Kambli reacted with tears on the field.  In 1999 in a Test against Pakistan, Sachin Tendulkar was run out in a bizarre episode having collided with Shoaib Akhtar – crowd rioted and the final day concluded in front of an empty stadium.

Kolkatta would also be remembered ever happily for that wonderful turnabout when India following on won the Test thanks to that great innings by VVS Laxman (281) and his epic partnership with Dravid. Harbhajan Singh took a hattrick then.  That test in March 2001 became India’s finest hour as they thwarted Aussies unprecedented 17th Test victory from becoming a reality.

Way back in Jan 1934 the Test between India and England was drawn.  Douglas Jardine of bodyline (in)fame was the Captain; England made 403 in their first essay.  Amar Singh took 4.  India made 247 with Dilawar Hussain and Vijay Merchant making 50s; following on they made 237 – still hold on to a draw.

I vividly remember reading the details of the Dec 1974 Test, when India trailing 0-2 came back to win by 85 runs.  S. Venkatraghavan who had captained the previous Test at Delhi was unceremoniously dropped and Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi came back to be the captain.  Batting first, India made 233 thanks to half century by GR Vishwanath and more than useful contributions by Anshuman Gaekwad (36) and Madanlal (48).  Gaekwad and Karsan Ghavri made their debuts.   Roy Fredricks scored a 100 as WI made  240 only.  Madan lal took 4 wickets.  In the 2nd Vishy made a grand century (139); Farokh Engineer made 61 as India made a grand 316.  Set to score 310, the strong WI managed only 224. Bishan Bedi 4 and Chandrasekhar 3 shared the spoils. 

In Dec 1984, Test no. 1007 between England and India ended a dull draw. Mohd Azharuddin made his debut, scored a century; Ravi Shastri also scored a ton – as India declared at 437/7 in 200 overs.   England captained by David Gower were all out for 276 with Chetan Sharma and Shivlal Yadav taking 4 apiece. In the 2nd innings India played 18 overs and made 29 for 1. That Test was a different kind of turmoil  India had won the 1st Test at Bombay thanks to debutant L Sivaramakrishnan taking 12 wickets.  In the 2nd at Delhi,  India scored  307 in the first innings, Kapil Dev top-scoring with 60; England replied with 418.  Indians had to play for a draw as wished by the then Captain Sunil Gavaskar; the ebullient  Kapil Dev, having just hit Pat Pocock for a six,  was caught in the deep in trying to repeat the shot.  India folded; England won the test.  Gavaskar was furious and the greatest allrounder of Indian cricket was unceremoniously dropped for the Calcutta Test ~ yes dropped.  The greatest allrounder was punished for one shot !

In that otherwise dull Test curtailed in some manner by smog and rain, Gavaskar decided to continue Indian innings till lunch of the 4th day and ensured a pointless draw.  Azharuddin and Shastri were adding 214 for the fifth wicket at under 2 runs an over, incensed the crowd that there were fears a riot might develop. That section of the crowd nearest the pavilion hooted and booed, shouting "Gavaskar down, Gavaskar out" when the Indian captain made a brief appearance outside the dressing-room while Prabhakar and Chetan Sharma were batting at a snail's pace, and he was pelted with fruit when eventually he led India out to field, the game being held up for eight minutes while groundstaff cleared the outfield. All this, combined with the distraction of a protracted meeting between India's selectors three days before the match to review Kapil Dev's omission, ensured a Test that had less to do with cricket than machinations off the field.

So when Test cricket returned to Calcutta again in 1987 Feb – this time against Imran Khan’s Pak – Test no. 1067 – Gavaskar refused to play at Eden Gardens and India opened with Krish Srikkanth and Arunlal.  Azhar made a 100 and with 50s by Arunlal, Kapil and Binny, India ended up at  403.  Pakis were all out for 229 with Roger Binny taking 6 for 56.  India declared at 181/3 and set up a target of 356; Pak made 176 for 5. perhaps this time too, it was India’s slow batting and defensive mindset that denied them a victory. 

The present WI team may not pose any such difficulty as Indians are expected to wrap the Test in style.  Even before the Test commenced came the minor scuffle when Eden Gardens' veteran curator Prabir Mukherjee Monday prevented Indian batsman Rohit Sharma from inspecting the pitch to be used for the test. Mukherjee is well known for his steadfast adherence to the rules and traditional values of cricket.  The curator stopped Rohit who was walking alongside Dhoni, citing ICC rules, which allows only the team captain and coach to have a look at the track. It is reported Sharma and Mukherjee were seen in animated discussion, as Cricket Association of Bengal joint secretary Subir Ganguly rushed to pacify them. Earlier in the day, Mukherjee had turned down India coach Duncan Fletcher's request for using a strip adjacent to the centre pitch for use by the bowlers.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

1 comment:

  1. No doubt Sachin is a great cricketer. It is debatable if he would have been able to continued his inning; if he would have been representing Australia or England.