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Thursday, March 23, 2017

picturesque Dharamshala ~ Shreyas Iyer called - remembering WI tour of 1975

The climax of the gripping India-Australia Test Series 2017 is to occur at Dharamsala, a city  in Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh. It is the district headquarters. It was formerly known as Bhagsu. From the earliest times until the British Raj, Dharamshala and its surrounding area was ruled by the Katoch Dynasty of Kangra. The Katoch Dynasty is said to be the oldest serving Royal Family in the world.  The indigenous people of the Dharamshala area are the Gaddis, a predominantly Hindu group – over the recent past,  Gaddis lost their seasonal pastures and farmland when the British and the Gurkhas arrived to settle. The Tibetan settlement of Dharamshala began in 1959, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet and the Prime Minister of India allowed him and his followers to settle in McLeodGanj (in Upper Dharmshala), a former colonial British summer picnic spot. There they established the "government-in-exile" in 1960 and the Namgyal Monastery.

The ground here can be described as the most picturesque, surrounded by a massive beauty of the nature. This stadium is located at a height of 1,457m above the sea level and had snow capped mountains at the back side of the stadium. Here is a breathtaking photo courtesy

Not great news for India .. .. .. in an interview Michael  Clarke said Kohli had hidden the true extent of the shoulder injury he suffered diving in the outfield on day one in Ranchi. The Indian physio, Patrick Farhart, is trying to manage his shoulder injury as much as he possibly can; there are fears that he may not be fit to play in the final test.  Interestingly, there is a call for  Shreyas Iyer, an attacking top-order batsman capable of marrying classical shots with brute force. Iyer made headlines when Delhi Daredevils bought him at the 2015 IPL auction for a whopping INR 2.6 crore, and he repaid the faith with interest. Opening the batting, he aggregated 439 runs from 14 matches and went to win the IPL emerging player of the year award.

Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer has been called up to Dharamsala as cover for Virat Kohli, who still hasn't completely recovered from his shoulder injury. Iyer is expected to join the team on Friday, the eve of the match when greater clarity on Kohli's fitness is expected. Besides a hundred for India A against the touring Bangladesh side in Hyderabad, Iyer smashed an unbeaten double hundred against Australia in a tour game at Brabourne Stadium last month. Kohli hurt his shoulder while making a diving stop on the boundary on the first day in Ranchi. He spent the rest of Australia's first innings off the field, but batted at his usual No. 4 slot and fielded in the second innings - though at slip even against the spinners rather than his usual station in the covers or midwicket. Iyer had a breakout first-class season in 2015-16 where he scored 1321 run to become the leading scorer in the Ranji Trophy. He finished as Mumbai's highest run-getter (725 runs at 42.94, including two hundreds) in Ranji Trophy 2016-17, where they finished runners-up.

Not related though, mind wavers back to that tour of Clive Lloyd’s West Indies in 1975 – we best remember that classy unbeaten 97 by Gundappa Viswanath and Indian win on Pongal day leading to declaration of holiday !

That was the turbulent time, when Indians had returned low after dismal 42 all out in England, losing all 3 tests.  Ajit Wadekar suddenly announced his retirement and the Indian Cricket Board slapped a one Test ban on Bishen Bedi for airing controversial views during an unauthorised TV interview in England. Mansur Ali Khan Pataud captained at Bangalore, was injured and Gavaskar was to lead; but he too suffered an injury in a Ranji game and the great planner Srinivasan Venkatraghavan led – though it was more of a misfortune – an innings defeat and Venkat losing his place becoming 12th man in the next game.  What an ignominy !!

In the 1st Test at Bangalore  (test 745) in Nov 1974 – Hemant Kanitkar, Gordon Greenidge and Isaac Vivian Richards made their debuts.  WI won by 267 runs.  In the 2nd test at Kotla, Parthasarathi Sharma made his  debut; Venkat as Captain – India lost by an innings and 17 runs.  Sunil Gavaskar who had become the mainstay could not play due a fractured finger.

When people were fearing a rout, India won by 85 runs at Calcutta, thanks to a century by Vishy and 80 by debutant Anshuman Gaekwad.  Karsan Ghavri, was the other debutant.  At Chepauk, the first day of Pongal test was dominated by truly great exhibition of pace bowling by Andy Roberts and a more classy unbeaten 97 by Vishwanath.  India came back winning the test by 100 runs. 

In Test no. 753,  there was tremendous interest in the decider to be played at the brand new Wankhede stadium in Bombay. West Indies ran up a total of 604 for six declared on the third morning after a minor riot interrupted play on the second evening. Lloyd hammered an unbeaten 242 while Fredericks got his second hundred of the series. Despite some fine batting by Gavaskar, Viswanath, Gaekwad and Eknath Solkar, who posted his only Test century, India just about managed to avoid the follow on and the West Indies had plenty of time to coast to victory by 201 runs in the decisive Test, played over six days.

This time, we expect, Indians to clinch the Series with a win at Dharamshala.  Mitchell Johnson says Jackson Bird could come into Australia's side at the expense of spinner Steve O'Keefe for the series decider against India, starting on Saturday. Johnson expects the pitch for the fourth Test in Dharamsala to favour the pace bowlers and he believes Bird could earn a recall to play alongside fellow quicks Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. O'Keefe was Australia's match-winner in the first Test in Pune, claiming 12 wickets in India's shock 333-run defeat.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
23rd Mar 2017.

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