A historic match that raised funds for Koyna earthquake victims

A historic match that raised funds for Koyna earthquake victims

Cricket enthusiasts can now partake in an interesting nugget of information about how 50 years ago, Mangaluru witnessed a rare cricket tournament from April 5 to 7 in 1968 between 'Mysore State Finance Ministers XI' and 'Maharastra State Finance Ministers XI' teams at Nehru Maidan.

The match was organised for a cause. A princely amount of about Rs one lakh collected through the match was donated towards the welfare measures of the victims of an earthquake in Koynanagar, Maharastra, which occurred on December 11, 1967, resulting in the death of 177 people. More than 2,000 people had suffered injuries.

Kasturi Balakrishna Pai, KSCA qualified umpire and Dakshina Kannada District Cricket Association former manager, recollects the moments of the historic match. Giving details about a photograph from his collection which features the players and organisers, Pai said that the three-day cricket match was special for several reasons. It was mainly a tournament involving cricketers of state and international levels. Pai said he had a chance to meet cricketers Madhav Manthri, Bapu Nadakarni, G R Vishwanath and others, during their stay at Hotel Moti Mahal.

Incidentally, famous hotelier late Kudpi Srinivas Shenoy is Balakrishna Pai's maternal grandfather.

Balakrishna Pai said that the cricket players who landed in Mangalore on an AVRO HS 748 aircraft, stayed at Moti Mahal hotel, which had three storeys then. All the three were occupied by the cricket players and officials who had accompanied them. The benefit match was an outcome of an initiative by the governments of Mysore and Karnataka. Five cricket matches were organised in Mysuru and Maharashtra each. At the time, Mangaluru got an opportunity to host one of the five matches, organised by South Kanara Cricket Association, under the leadership of then SKCA secretary Manohar Nivas and others.

A huge pandal was put up at Nehru Maidan for the tourney to accommodate 5,000 spectators. M Chinnaswamy, Karunakar, Vijay Manjrekar and Madhav Mantri were the observers for the match.

Pai revealed another interesting fact about how no team won the match as the final match on April 7 ended abruptly following repercussions of Mumbai riots during the time and all players were back to the pavilion as the match was called off at 3.30 pm. The team flew to Bangalore and then to Mumbai, Pai added. Kasturi Balakrishna Pai has also witnessed the cricket matches played in Mangalore for the cause of National Defense Fund in 1962 and in 1965 during Indo-China and Indo-Pak wars respectively. He was also present during the 1959 Ranji trophy match, the last Ranji match hosted by Mangaluru.

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