'Confidence, passion separated Bala'

 The book was to have been released in Bangalore last month, but had to be put off following the veteran journalist’s untimely demise.

Manrjekar recalled his long association with Bala and said what separated him from the rest was the confidence with which he approached his passion. “He didn’t walk up to talk to cricketers, he expected cricketers to come to him and more often than not, that was what happened,” said Manjrekar.

“I remember one of my first meetings with him. Rajan told me that he had been covering the series when the India under-19 team coached by my father, Vijay Manjrekar, toured England. We lost a close match and Rajan told me my father slapped one player, Guru Gupte, for conceding an overthrow.

 “Rajan said he told my father that coach or no coach, he had no business touching any player. He wrote about it in his article and that was the end of my father’s coaching career. Rajan also told me that many years later, when my dad went to Bangalore, he walked into the Deccan Herald office and slapped Rajan! And he said it with great relish! That was the kind of person Rajan was,” Manjrekar added as Rahul Dravid, who walked straight into the launch function at CCI after India’s nets, broke out into laughter with the rest of the audience.

 Also speaking at the release function were Bala’s childhood friend Satyamurthy and former Hyderabad Ranji Trophy player Harimohan.

"Rajan's greatest contribution is that he had covered the game for many decades and had brought the heroes of the previous generation to life. He's not everyone's cup of tea but had a very good knowledge of the game. I'm looking forward to reading the book," said Dravid.

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