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The `Mysore Express' rolls to a halt

By Our Special Correspondent

Javgal Srinath announces his retirement at a press conference in Bangalore on Tuesday. The BCCI President, Jagmohan Dalmiya, is also seen.

Bangalore Nov. 11. The `Mysore Express' has finally come to a halt.

Javagal Srinath announced his retirement from all forms of cricket, here on Tuesday, putting to an end his illustrious career as an India paceman.

"I have basked under the sunshine, been under the microscope, but enjoyed every moment of it," said the 34-year-old Srinath, summing up his career. His decision was irreversible, he added.

With 236 scalps in 67 Tests at 30.49, inclusive of 10 five-wicket hauls, Srinath is only behind the great Kapil Dev in the list of Indian pacemen.

In one-day Internationals, he took 315 wickets in 229 matches at 28.08 and had the rare honour of representing India in four successive World Cups, beginning Down Under in 1992.

Srinath said a knee injury that refused to go away had forced him to take this step.

"I have been playing for India for the last 13 years, and it was a difficult decision for me."

Jagmohan Dalmiya, president, Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), addressing the media, said that the Board would like to involve Srinath in a coaching or a consulting capacity.

S.K. Nair, secretary, BCCI, and K.M. Ramprasad, president, Karnataka State Cricket Association, were also present at the press conference.

Earlier in the day, Indian captain Sourav Ganguly, who had wanted the pace ace in the team for the demanding Australian campaign, said Srinath's decision to call it a day had to be respected, since he alone knew his body.

The skipper added Srinath had been a wonderful team-man and bowler.

Aussie captain Ricky Ponting, who said Srinath's decision came as a surprise, called him one of India's finest pacemen.

Asked to pick his best cricketing moments, Srinath chose India's victories over Pakistan in the '96, '99 and 2003 World Cups. He thanked the admistrators in the KSCA and the BCCI and every cricketer he had played with for the State and the country over the years. The genial cricketer also remembered Dr. Ferguson, who was instrumental in his recovering from a career-threatening shoulder injury in 1996-97.

Srinath first burst onto the scene as a lean, tall bowler with the pace to make the batsmen hop around. He made a distinct impression on his maiden tour with the Indian team, to Australia in 1991-92, and after Kapil Dev's retirement in 1994, assumed the mantle of being India's pace spearhead.

Essentially an in-swing bowler, Srinath, as his career progressed, developed a potent straighter delivery that added an extra dimension to his bowling.

He was also one of those few pacemen who relished bowling at southpaws, seaming the ball across the blade.

One was Srinath's memorable displays was his match-winning six for 21at the expense of the Proteas in the Ahmedabad Test of 1996-97. He bowled exceptionally well — five for 46 and eight for 86 — in the Kolkata Test of 1998-99 against Pakistan at the Eden Gardens. However, that was an effort in vain.

In the latter stages of his career, Srinath, who said his bowling evolved under the captaincy of Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly, added a useful slower delivery to his repertoire.

He had his moments during the 2003 World Cup, the best being his four for 35 that rocked Sri Lanka in the Super Six clash at Johannesburg.

The World Cup, as it turned out, was the last stop in the eventful journey of the Mysore Express.

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