An evening soaked in heavy rains was matched by an overwhelming sense of nostalgia as Karnataka State Cricket Association felicitated its seven Ranji Trophy winning teams, right from the EAS Prasanna-led side in 1973-74 to R Vinay Kumar’s all-conquering boys of 2013-14.
The function was mainly organised to recognise the unprecedented achievement of winning three titles in a single season by the current Karnataka team which not only ended a 15-year wait for their seventh Ranji Trophy title but also went on to add Irani Cup (beating Rest of India) and Vijay Hazare Trophy during their memorable run.“My team-mates were amazing throughout the season,” said Vinay in his comments here on Saturday.
“We knew we had it in us to go the distance but there was something missing that stopped us from making it big. Just before the start of the last season we all sat together and discussed things and we all thought it was just about taking that extra responsibility. I am glad we executed it perfectly. The thing with this team is that everyone here wants to play for India. And once you have that ambition, most things will be taken care of,” he remarked after BCCI interim president Shivlal Yadav spent almost two hours on the stage to honour players from various eras.
The first team to be felicitated was Prasanna’s 1973-74 squad that ended Mumbai’s long hegemony over the Ranji Trophy. This was the first of the seven titles that Karnataka would go on to win over the next 40 years. “We had some great players – GR Viswanath, BS Chandrashekhar, Brijesh Patel and SMH Kirmani – in that side but the rest of the players played such an important role that we can’t say the victory came because of the four,” recalled Prasanna who went on to lead Karnataka to a second title in 1977-78.
Members from those two seasons – Arun Kumar, Sanjay Desai, AV Jayaprakash, Brijesh, K Laxman, Sudhakar Rao, B Vijayakrishna, B Siddharamu, S Vijay Prakash, Roger Binny, Kamal Tandon, GV Kumar, Imtiaz Ahmed and Ramesh HT among others – made it to the function where they were presented with a 400gm silver replica of the Ranji Trophy.
Brijesh led the team to title again in 1982-83 and Karnataka had to wait for another 13 years to win their fourth title in 1995-96 with Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble and K Jeshwanth leading the side at various stages. Dravid and Kumble along with Javagal Srinath didn’t make it to the event. Most of the players from that batch -- Venkatesh Prasad, Sunil Joshi, David Johnson, Avinash Vaidya, Sujith Somasundar, J Arun Kumar among others -- attended the function.
Before Vinay’s side brought the title home for the seventh time, next only to Mumbai’s 40, Karnataka had claimed back-to-back crowns in 1997-98 and 1998-99 which helped many players get into the Indian squad. KSCA Secretary Patel hoped the present squad will emulate the feat when Karnataka used to have five-six players in the National team.
To mark the occasion, a first day commemorative cover and a stamp were released by the Post Master General Ramanujam.
Bad taste in mouth
Call it an oversight or sheer negligence, the emcee of the evening didn’t call out the name of Mithun Beerala, a member of the 1998-99 Ranji winning team. In what was an otherwise delightful function, the incident left a bad taste in the mouth. Not to mention the player feeling humiliated.