Saurashtra has created history by bringing down fancied opponents such as Karnataka and Punjab and reached the final of the Ranji Trophy championship. But one cannot miss Saurashtra’s Jamnagar connection.
Old timers still get a kick out of a mere mention of Jamnagar, the capital of the erstwhile princely State of Nawanagar. Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Porbandar have enriched the region’s cricket culture, and a handful of India’s leading business houses have made the port city famous as ‘the oil city of India’, but a reference to Jamnagar in cricketing circles makes one reminisce about its glorious past in the field of cricket.
The famous cricketers to emerge from this region were Ranjitsinhji, who played for Sussex and England and his nephew Duleepsinhji, who also played for Sussex and England. Others with Jamnagar connection are Vinoo Mankad, Salim Durani, K.S. Indrajitsinhji and Ajay Jadeja.
Jamnagar was never short of patrons for cricket and most of the players of this region have been entertainers and quick learners. The late Rajsingh Dungarpur never missed to highlight a point about the genius in Vinoo Mankad when the all-rounder was on India’s maiden tour of Australia in 1947-48.
Mankad was dismissed by fast bowler Ray Lindwall for 0 and 7 at Brisbane and 5 and 5 at Sydney. According to Dungarpur, Mankad and Lindwall met after the Sydney Test and the Australian fast bowler advised Mankad to modify his back-lift from high to low. Mankad scored 116 and 111 in the third and fifth Test matches played at Melbourne and 49 in the fourth at Adelaide.
“Mankad showed the meaning of a true professional cricketer by correcting a mistake,’’ Dungarpur used to say.
Salim Durani’s father Abdul Aziz played for Nawanagar for five seasons from 1936-37 and left his family in Jamnagar after partition. Salim learned much of his cricket in the conducive environs.
Indrajitsinhji kept wickets for India in four Tests and Ajay Jadeja, though born in Jamnagar, went on to play for Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan and Jammu & Kashmir.
The game has become popular in other parts of Saurashtra and the prolific scorer Cheteshwar Pujara hails from Rajkot and so is Sitanshu Kotak.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy championship