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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

when Yajuvindra Singh caught his way to glory !!

Indians have not exactly been great fielders barring elite few. At Adelaide, featuring in that grand win,  Virat  Kohli made a century – the first in Indo Pak encounters in World Cup.  With this Kohli has 22 - only behind Sachin Tendulkar (49); Ricky Ponting (30); Sanath Jayasuriya (28) and Sourav Ganguly (22) – Kohli is the quickest making them in just 151 innings ! Including Kohli, there are 3 Indians in that elite test.  Youngsters may never understand that the first ever century by an Indian in ODI came in 1983, a good 9 years after India played its first ODI and for long there were only a handful centuries made by Indians.

Sachin rewrote many of those records ….. there have been record breaking performances by Indians in batting and bowling.  Indians, are not known to be any great fielding team, though there have been individuals like Eknath Solkar, Abid Ali, S Venkatraghavan, Brijesh Patel – who excelled in those days.  In the present team also, S Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina excel.  This is about a man who played only 4 tests, yet is a joint holder of two World records – and it was achieved in his debut test Yajuvindra Singa got an opportunity to play  England at Bangalore in 1976-77 to strengthen the middle-order batting; he opened the bowling too.  In the first innings, he took five catches to equal the record held by Australia's Vic Richardson against South Africa in 1935-36. In the second he held two more and this saw him equal the record held by Richardson's grandson Greg Chappell who took seven catches against England in 1974-75.

it is VVS Laxman here

Years later, Greg Chappel invited him to give the Indian team a quick lesson on close-in catching. Singh spent almost an hour with the Indian fielders in the middle, explaining to them the nuances of fielding at close-in positions.  ''One shouldn't be scared and remember that close-in fielding is not just about catching but stopping singles too,'' he said. It was the time when England Tony-Greig-led squad  toured India in 1976-77 ; Greig was fortunate to have a well-balanced side of batsmen, bowlers and all-rounders.  England won the first three Tests ¬ the first side to accomplish that feat on a tour of this country - and, although India came back in the five-match rubber, the final margin of 3-1 was somewhat flattering to the visitors, in a series marred by Vaseline incident with John Lever being the central player.

It was Test no. 794, the 4th test of that Series played at Bangalore on 28th Jan 1977.  India batting first, meandered to 205/6 on day 1.  Anshuman Gaekwad (39), Surinder Amarnath (63) and Kirmani (52) contributed.  Debutant Yajuvindra Singh was out for 8.  Indians were bowled out for 253 in 85 overs.  The big burly Bob Willis took 6 wickets for 53.  England surprisingly were bowled out for 195 in 96.2 overs.  Bhagwat Chandrasekhar had figures of 32.2-7-76-6 while Prasanna took 3 for 47.  Dennis Amiss made 82. Yajuvindra Singh, the debutant took 5 catches.  The scorecard read :
DL Amiss  C Yajuvindra b Chandra 82
KWR Fletcher C Yajuvindra b Prasanna 10
Derek Randall C Yajuvindra b Prasanna 10
Tony Greig* C Yajuvindra b Chandra 2
Derek Underwood C Yajuvindra b Chandra 12
India in their 2nd innings declared (yes !!) at 259/9.  Gavaskar made 50; GR Viswanath made 79. Derek Underwood took 4 wickets. 

Chasing an improbable 318, England were all out for 177 losing by 14o runs – a big margin.  In the 2nd Bishan Singh Bedi had figures of 21.3-4-71-6.  He opened the attack with Karsan Ghavri.  Chandra took 3 for 55.  Ghavri bowled only 4 overs to have 4-1-4-1.  Yajuvindra  opened the attack in the 1st innings and bowled a solitary over.         

In the 2nd Singh, took 2 catches – sending out Amiss off Ghavri and Fletcher off Chandrasekhar. Besides the good bowling of Indian spinners, the catching of Yajuvindra Singh, who equalled the World record stood out.   India after a rest day, declared at tea on the fourth day with an overall lead of 317.  At the end of the fourth day, England were 34 for four, the wickets having gone down  when the total was mere 8. 

Yajuvindra’s career however faded away – he played 3 more tests.  In that Oval Test in Aug 1979 (when Venkat was unceremoniously sacked)  when India made an epic chase and Gavaskar made 221, he made 43* in first innings.  He returned to play the Chepauk Test no. 855 against visiting Aussies led by Kim Hughes.  He made 109 runs in 7 innings. 

The highest catches (7)  held in a Test is jointly shared by Greg Chappell, Yajuvindra singh, Hashan Tilakaratne, Stephen Fleming and Mathew Hayden.  Most catches in an innings (5) is jointly held by VY Richardson, Yajuvindra Singh, Azharuddin, Krish Srikkanth, Stephen Fleming, Greame Smith, D Sammy and DM Bravo. 

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

17th Feb 2015.

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