Recollecting moments of glory against Mumbai

Last Updated 07 January 2010, 17:15 IST

That was at the Wankhede stadium in March 1983, when Mumbai was still Bombay. Karnataka laid their hands on the trophy by virtue of their narrow 17-run first-innings lead, powered by Roger Binny’s all-round display and a stirring performance from the lower-order in a high-scoring draw.

Binny had sent down 43 overs in Bombay’s first innings of 534, and while Karnataka began brightly with Sadanand Viswanath making 92, AV Jayaprakash contributing 89 and Binny top-scoring with 115, they slipped into deep trouble at 293 for six.

That’s when the lower-order stepped up, number eight J Abhiram (69), number nine Ranjit Khanwilkar (32) and number ten B Vijayakrishna (42) hauling them up to 551.
Karnataka were 526 for nine when Raghuram Bhat, who had taken four for 121 in 52.4 overs in Bombay’s first innings, joined Vijayakrishna, and they just rolled over the line, number eleven Bhat remaining unbeaten on nought.

The victorious skipper then was former India batsman Brijesh Patel, currently the secretary of the Karnataka State Cricket Association.

“We had a good side,” Patel recalled as he slipped into nostalgia. “That whole season, we played positive cricket and won all our matches. We went into the final with a lot of confidence, and Bombay were not playing with a full side.”
Bombay, led by Ashok Mankad, were without India internationals Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar and Ravi Shastri, among others.

Patel said while Mumbai have a strong cricketing tradition, they are far from unbeatable. “They are good fighters and once they are on top, they finish the game,” he observed. “They don’t give the opposition a chance to come back, playing long innings and grinding the rivals.

‘First team’
“There was a time when they were unbeatable,” Patel acknowledged. “They had won the Ranji Trophy 15 times consecutively and it was us who became the first team to beat them, in the 1974-75 season in the semifinals here in Bangalore. We beat Delhi, Mumbai and then Rajasthan in the final under the captaincy of Erapalli Prasanna.”

Now, though, that aura surrounding Mumbai cricket had dimmed to a great extent, Patel noted. “Those days of their total dominance are long gone,” said the one-time dashing right-handed batsman. “This year, both teams are without their top players. Mumbai are missing Sachin (Tendulkar), Rohit (Sharma) and Zaheer (Khan), and we will be without Rahul (Dravid).

“From the 1974-75 season onwards, we have done well against Mumbai. Mumbai have been struggling this season. They are not the team of before and are definitely beatable, more so without their stars.”

Praising Dravid’s commitment, first-season coach K Sanath Kumar’s handling of a young team and the selection committee’s brave decision to go with youth, Patel said even without Dravid in the final, Karnataka stood an outstanding chance.
“We needed a good captain this year and Rahul put his hand up. Now, we will have to make do without him. We have played without him and won. We have an excellent pace attack and we have knocked a few good sides this season. Our batting has been very good and we have players who can shoulder the batting. I feel this team can win the title this year.”

(Published 07 January 2010, 17:15 IST)

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