Karsan Ghavri — the pacer who spun out a five-for

Karsan Ghavri.

Karsan Ghavri.  


A gamble by Gavaskar at the Wankhede in 1977 brought out his dual skills

Karsan Ghavri played in an era when spinners were the backbone of the Indian team.

Oftentimes, in the 1970s, Ghavri was employed as the sole pacer in the playing eleven. But Ghavri, a nippy left-arm seamer, was a handy spinner himself.

Bolt from the blue

This quality came to the fore in the fifth Test against England at the Wankhede in 1977.

In the England second innings, the Indian spinners — captain Bishan Singh Bedi, B.S. Chandrasekhar and E.A.S. Prasanna — were struggling. This gave Ghavri the chance to try a bit of left-arm spin — a move that worked wonders.

I could not bowl spin often for India, because we had great spinners like Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and Venkatraghavan

Much to Bedi’s surprise, Ghavri picked up five wickets, including that of Tony Greig, Derek Randall and Alan Knott. The match ended in a draw, but Ghavri had made his mark as a man of dual talent.

“I was a spinner in school. One day, when I was in school, our captain was injured and could not play a tournament final. My coach asked me to run in from 10-12 yards and bowl with the new ball. In around six overs, I had taken five wickets.

“The coach suggested I should concentrate on fast bowling. I agreed, and years later, got picked for the Ranji Trophy and for India as a fast bowler,” Ghavri, now the Saurashtra coach, said on the sidelines of his side’s Ranji match against Karnataka here on Sunday.

“Against England at the Wankhede, Bishen must have bowled 15-20 overs, but was unlucky not to get wickets. He went off for a rub, and asked Sunil Gavaskar to lead. Sunil gave me the ball and asked me to bowl spin.

“I bowled eight or nine overs and picked up five wickets,” Ghavri said.

“When Bishan was ready to come back onto the field, he saw that the England team had suffered a collapse. He asked the manager, ‘How did this happen? Did we take the new ball?’.

“The manager replied, No. It's the old ball. Karsan bowled spin and took a fifer’. Bedi was surprised,” Ghavri recalled.


Bedi had a quick chat with Ghavri in the dressing room. “Bedi told me not to bowl spin, not even in the nets. I said, ‘Paaji why? I took five wickets'. Bishen replied, 'If you take five wickets as a left-arm spinner, then of what use am I?’.

“In any case, I could not bowl spin often for India, because we had great spinners like Bedi, Chandrasekhar, Prasanna and S. Venkatraghavan," Ghavri said.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:13:10 AM |

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