METRO PLUS

Of grit, talent and domestic cricket

Though many Hyderabadi cricketers earned laurels at the national and international level, the scene in domestic cricket has been modest. But, there is abundance of talent and potential which needs to be exploited, writes ABHIJIT SEN GUPTA.

THE CITY has produced many famous cricketers and several of them have donned national colours and gone on to earn laurels for the country.

FIRST & FOREMOST: M.L. Jaisimha

FIRST & FOREMOST: M.L. Jaisimha  

They have left an indelible mark on the game at the national and international level.

Whenever Hyderabad cricket is discussed, the name which crops up first and foremost is that of M.L. Jaisimha who was one of the best-loved personalities and is still remembered with fondness and affection whenever Hyderabad's cricketing traditions are discussed.

But even before Jai, there were players such as Syed Mohammed Hussain, Syed Mohammad Hadi, Gul Mohammed and Ghulam Ahmed who put Hyderabadon the cricketing map of the country and the world.

During the period when Jaisimha, Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi and Abbas Ali Baig were at their peak, Hyderabad had a team with tremendous talent.

Among those who made it into the national squad were Syed Abid Ali, D. Govindaraj, K. Jayantilal and P. Krishnamurthy, one of the most reliable keepers that Hyderabad has had.

Later came Shivlal Yadav and Narasimha Rao, both very talented players, whose exploits enabled the city to regain the Ranji Trophy in 1986-87.

After that period, more talent showed up in the form of S.L. Venkatapathy Raju, Md. Azharuddin and Arshad Ayub whose performances for the Indian team were invaluable.

YOUNG GUN: V.V.S. Laxman. — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

YOUNG GUN: V.V.S. Laxman. — Photo: K. Ramesh Babu  

Now there is V.V.S. Laxman whose elegant batting has often benefited the Indian team in its battles against its rivals.

Those mentioned here are the ones who played for the country.

But, apart from them, there were numerous other exceptionally talented players whose exploits remain etched forever in the history of Hyderabad cricket.

But despite this abundance of talent, the State team's record in domestic cricket has been modest.

Hyderabad has now begun another campaign in the Ranji Trophy championship and will need to pull out its very best.

One reason why this year's championship may turn out to be tougher than the preceding ones, could be the new format which has been put into force from this season.

IN STYLE: M.A.K Pataudi

IN STYLE: M.A.K Pataudi  

The new Ranji Trophy format of conducting a league between the top teams in the "Elite" group and another league comprising the remaining teams in the "Plate" group has given a new twist to the competition.

With this new format in position, the teams simply don't have a chance to take it easy. Especially in the Elite group, the top rung teams have to play against rivals who are equally strong and there is no such thing as an easy match anymore.

As long as the old system was in force, the strong teams of each zone could afford to take it easy and still gain maximum points against the weaker teams.

But now, each and every match will test the team's abilities to the full.

On the positive side is the fact that Hyderabad has the depth and strength to overcome the hurdles. In the coming matches, a lot is expected of A.T. Rayudu who has raised expectations sky high among the Hyderabad cricket fans. Daniel Manohar, Vinay Kumar, Nandakishore and others are capable of putting up big scores if they put their minds to the job and in Arjun Yadav, the team has a budding all-rounder of considerable promise.In bowling, till recently, it was the spin duo of Kanwaljit Singh and Venkatapathy Raju who were doing the maximum damage to the rival batting line-ups.

HOWZAT: Venkatapathy Raju. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar

HOWZAT: Venkatapathy Raju. — Photo: P.V. Sivakumar  

But in the first match against Mumbai, it was Hyderabad medium pacers, Narenderpal Singh and Vishnuvardhan, who skittled out the visiting side for a paltry score in the first innings. If they continue to show similar form and fitness in the matches to come, they could be a real threat.

Much will depend upon how the team plays as a unit, the consistency of fielding standards (which has been a major handicap on many occasions), and the determination to fight back even when odds are stacked against the team.

In the past, Hyderabad teams, although superbly talented, sometimes lacked the resolve to fight till the last breath. This often allowed the rivals to extricate themselves from a difficult situation. One hopes that the present and future generations of Hyderabad cricketers will acquire the grit and resolution to go with their ample talent.

Only when talent and skill are combined with determination and fighting spirit, can a team or individual players gain the qualities to become a champion and stay at the top for a long period.

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