When Karnataka beat Tamil Nadu in the 1995-96 final of the Ranji Trophy at the M A Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai to clinch the prestigious Trophy, a fascinating sub-plot added charm to the contest.
Krishnaraj Srinath appeared for Tamil Nadu in that match, while his younger brother Krishnaraj Sriram played for Karnataka, a rare occasion in the long history of Indian domestic cricket till date.
Sriram, who now works for Canara Bank, recollected that brotherly battle for Deccan Herald.
“It was a unique feeling to see my brother at the other camp. I think we are the only brothers to have played for different teams in the same Ranji final,” said Sriram.
However, Sriram had to go through some good-natured banter from his team-mates. “I was standing at silly point, and Javagal Srinath was fielding at slips. Anil was bowling at my brother. Srinath was telling from slips: ‘hey, Anil, Sriram is not talking anything because his brother is batting. Tell him to talk something.’ In fact, Anil and my brother started playing cricket together. We all grew up together. Once the game got over, myself, my brother, Anil and his brother…went out for a dinner, and shared a good laugh about it,” recollected the younger of the two brothers.
Srinath, who had to move to Chennai, the then Madras, as part of his job with the Indian Bank and now a BCCI panel umpire, shared his thoughts. “I had just moved over from Bangalore to Chennai. I missed out one year because of late issue of NOC, and then forced to play for TN as a birthright (he was born in Madurai). I wanted to be at the other side of the fence when the final came but as fate had it I did played for Tamil Nadu. It was a great feeling.
“Earlier, Tamil Nadu had played against Karnataka in a league game in Bhadravati, Karnataka. I could not play that game because of a groin injury, but it was nice to catch up with some of my old team-mates. It was good to see my brother making his debut in that game and get a big hundred,” he began.
In the final Srinath was ready for a shot against his old side. However, Karnataka lorded over their traditional rivals in that match with ease. Javagal Srinath ensured that his namesake would not forget his roots for a moment as well. “Javagal was particularly targeting me. It was more good banter than crude sledging — calling me ‘traitor.’ Srinath was telling: ‘you were part of our camp some time back and now you had moved over to other side. How can you do this to us?
“I got a 50 in that match. Karnataka players didn’t make it obvious because the game was getting telecast live on ESPN, and they were telling ‘well done Kumbi’, well played Sri etc. Srinath was fielding at mid-wicket and was telling them ‘Saaku Saaku (enough enough), he has already made 50, and do you want more?’ He told my brother too that keep your brotherly feelings inside the four walls of his house, and support your bowlers by getting behind your brother. It was good fun,” he concluded.