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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Hanuma Vihari debuts ~ memories of Kennington Oval .. and PB Sreenivas


Tamil cinema fans would ever remember – ‘ kalangalil aval vasantham song’ from the film Pavamannippu.

The final test is now on at Kennington Oval, London.  Kennington is a district situated in Central London, England, south of the River Thames.  Proximity to central London was key to the development of the area as a residential suburb and it was incorporated into the metropolitan area of London in 1855.  Indian moment of glory came at Oval in 1971 – on that tour when Indian spinners – Bedi, Venkat & Chandra excelled claiming 37 wickets – it was Bhagwath Chandrasekhar – whose eight wickets brought India their biggest win to date.

Years  later, in the final Test of 1979 Series, Sunil Gavaskar played a classic knock in the 4th innings. Chasing a mammoth total of 438 runs in the fourth innings, he set the The Oval stadium on fire with a masterly knock of 221 runs. On that tour, Indians were  beaten comprehensively in the first test by an Innings & 83 runs at Headingly and the 2nd & 3rd Tests were drawn.  Srinivasan  Venkatraghavan and Mike Brearly were the captains. In the 4th Chetan Chauhan and Sunil Gavaskar were involved in a grand partnership of 213 and then Dilip Vengsarkar added another 153 – thus Indians were 366-1 at one stage, which for sure created jitters. At tea, India was in a commanding position at  304 and  England played negative tactics in slowing down the game.  When mandatory overs began, India required only 100 runs and were on course to a historic win.  Not to be, as in the end, India sort of throw away the match, with couple of poor decisions hastening the end.  Eventually India fell short by 9 runs with 2 wickets in hand losing the series 1-0. Bharat Reddy was the wicketkeeper then.  Sadly, Venkat was to lose the Captaincy in an ignominy – reportedly the news was broken in the PA system of the aeroplane when the team was travelling back, Gavaskar became the Captain.

England won the toss and all eyes were glued on the England dressing room, Alastair Cook stepped out into the sunshine and basked in the applause. He  led England to a position of strength with his 57th  half-century ~ he would not make many more, as he has already announced end to his successful career.  They were progressing rather slowly and after tea though, a peaceful day at the Oval turned frenetic. Jasprit Bumrah had Cook dragging on for 71. Three balls later, he bowled a vemomous inswinger that trapped Joe Root lbw for 0 and five balls after that, Ishant Sharma had Jonny Bairstow caught behind with one that held its line just outside off-stump and England were suddenly 134 for 4, from 133 for 1.  Today, that is no great news as England has marched past 300 !!

Though we expected some wholesome changes and debut of young Prithvi Shaw in place of KL Rahul or Dhawan – nothing of that .. .. Ravindra Jadeja came in replacing injured Ravi Ashwin and Vihari debuts in place of Hardik Pandya.  Hanuma Vihari has become the first Andhra cricketer in 19 years after  MSK Prasad, the former India wicketkeeper and current selection committee chief who debuted against New Zealand in September 1999.  Vihari is at the summit of a very elite list. Among all contemporary cricketers, Vihari has the world's best 's first-class average of 59.45. Steven Smith, the next best, is at 57.27.

I had posted about him in Apr  2013 : - born in Kakinada in 1993, he plays for Sunrisers Hyderabad. He is a right handed batsman and right arm off spinner.  Vihari was part of the successful Indian team that won U19 World Cup 2012 in Australia.. remember Unmukt Chand was the captain.  He played in all the matches, scored 31 against Zimbabwe and was not asked to bowl in any of the matches !

Gale storm – Chris Gayle is a phenomenon.  In match 2 of IPL 6, Gayle played a waiting game; still finished with an unbeaten 92 off 58 balls - taking 17 off the 18th over from Munaf Patel and another 15 in the final over of Munaf.  His heroics are so high… that bowlers and rivals fear him.  Last year at Bangalore against Pune Warriors on 20.4.12, chasing a tall score Chris Gayle for RCB smashed eight sixes, including five in a row off leg-spinner Rahul Sharma – and one of them injured a spectator, a little girl who had come to watch the game.   Days later, the  25 year old left arm medium fast bowler Prasanth Parameswaran who was earlier MoM in the match against Delhi Daredevils was driven almost out of the tournament by Gayle.  It was the third over of the Bangalore innings and Chris Gayle was on strike.  First one went over Point for 6; second trying a slower one overstepped, went over Point again for another 6; the free hit went for a 4 in midwicket region;  the third (regular) ball also went for 4; fourth was hit brutally over cover for 6; 5th went 91 m straight for another 6 and the last one went past the keeper for a four :  6-6+1-4-4-6-6-4 (whopping 37 run over it was)

On that day at Bangalore – the  pre-match hype was that only Dale Steyn can stop Gayle storm and only Gayle can take on Steyn thunder.  Gayle took a single off the very first ball and the first over was otherwise uneventful, though a wide 4 came.  The 2nd  over it was Hanuma Vihari, the offie……….. was it a plan or putting someone on the altar ?  - and off the very first ball in IPL on his debut…………. he got the prize wicket of Chris Gayle – caught behind – a faster one, bounced slightly, Gayle went for a cut of a delivery that was too close and the mighty Gayle was on his way back…. unbelievable………. Akshath Reddy who laboured some runs against Pune Warriors on the other day was on the field and on mike… telling Sunil Gavaskar that it was a plan – he said ‘they have not seen Hanu at all and it was planned to have a surprise element in Vihari bowling to Gayle.. claiming that it was plotted out…. there was the Q on whether Sunrisers have similar plan for Dilshan and Virat Kohli….. there was not much need as Dilshan was cleaned up sooner by Ishant Sharma  ~ and surprisingly after the first over in which he got the wicket of Chris Gayle, Hanu Vihari did not bowl

Kalangalil Vasantham was among the very many melodies sung by legendary PB Sreenivas.  Prathivadi Bhayankara Sreenivas (1930 –2013) a veteran playback singer,  was born in Kakinada in East Godavri District of Andhra Pradesh. He had sung around 3000 songs in Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Tulu and Konkani. He was a regular at Star theatre Triplicane and at Woodlands Drive In.

With regards- S. Sampathkumar
8th Sept. 2018.

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