Test Wicket Number 600 For Anil Kumble – A Revisit

Test Wicket Number 600 For Anil Kumble - A Revisit

On 17th Jan 2008, Anil Kumble became the only Indian and overall 3rd bowler after Shane Warne and Muttiah Muralitharan to reach the 600 test wickets milestone in Perth. 

Anil Kumble’s 600th victim was Andrew Symonds who was caught at slip by Rahul Dravid, someone who has taken more than 50 catches of Kumble’s bowling during the illustrating career both of them had. It was an important wicket as it stopped the counter-attacking partnership between Symonds and Adam Gilchrist and eventually helped India to win the test match. This test was just after the controversial Sydney test and an immediate win helped Indian team to restore their confidence.

Anil Kumble Gets His 600th Wicket (Image – Getty Images)

To remember the day let’s revisit some of the key wickets in Anil Kumble’s career.

1st Wicket: Allan Lamb(38) Caught Manjarekar Bowled Kumble 

This was during Kumble’s debut test match at Old Trafford, Manchester during India’s 1990 tour of England. This test was memorable for Sachin Tendulkar’s maiden test ton which helped India to save the test match. Batting first, England scored a mountain of runs with three centuries from Graham Gooch, Michael Atherton, and Robin Smith. India played two leg spinners in Kumble and Hirwani, interestingly both were wearing glasses. Kumble’s first wicket was English middle order batsman Alan Lamb and he finished with 3 wickets in the match. There was enough promise shown on the field so that the selectors could keep faith on this unusual leg spinner from Karnataka.

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100th Wicket: Martin Crowe(11) Caught Tendulkar Bowled Kumble 

Kumble reached his 100th wicket in his home town Bangalore by getting the New Zealand legend Martin Crowe caught by Sachin Tendulkar. By this time Kumble became the leader of the India spin bowling consisted of Kumble himself, Venkatapati Raju, and Rajesh Chauhan. In this test match also Kumble led the way and gave India a comfortable victory by taking 9 wickets in the match.

200th Wicket: Mbangwa(2) Stumped Mongia bowled Kumble 

Image Source – India TV

Kumble’s 200th wicket came in a mostly forgettable test match for Indian fans, a test match loss against Zimbabwe in Harare. Although Kumble made his mark on day one as 3rd of his three victims Pommy Mbangwa helped him to reach 200 wicket feat. But India failed to chase a target of 235 in the 4th innings and gave Zimbabwe, one of their most memorable test match victories.

300th Wicket: Matthew Hoggard(1) LBW Kumble 

Kumble got his 300th wicket in a rain-affected test match against England. The venue was once again the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore and Kumble got the last wicket of Hoggard to bowl out England for 336. However, day three and four were mostly impacted by rain and a full washout on day five resulted in a drawn test match.

400th Wicket: Simon Katich(81) Bowled Kumble

Image Source – Changing Tomorrow

Kumble returned to his home venue after 3 years and picked his 400th test wicket when he got the wicket of Simon Katich who was batting brilliantly. Although Harbhajan Singh was the biggest star in this match with 11 wickets in a losing cause as Australia romped home by 217 runs. Still, this is memorable for Kumble as he became only the second Indian bowler after Kapil Dev to reach 400 wickets list.

500th Wicket: Steve Harmison(13) Stumped Dhoni Bowled Kumble 

Kumble’s 500th wicket came in another Indian venue, Mohali in Chandigarh against England. It was in a winning cause and Kumble ended with 9 wickets in the match. His 4 wickets in the second innings resulted in England getting bundled out for just 181 runs. Kumble’s 500th wicket was England fast bowler Steve Harmison who was stumped by MS Dhoni from behind the wicket.

600th Wicket: Andrew Symonds(66) Caught Dravid Bowled Kumble 

It was during 124th test played by Anil Kumble that he achieved this feat. A leg-break caught Symonds’ edge, deflected off Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s glove before going to the safe hands of Rahul Dravid at first slip.

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619th Wicket: Mitchell Johnson(15) Caught & Bowled Kumble 

Kumble finished his career with 619 test wicket and his last 3 wickets came during his last test match in Delhi. It was a drawn test match and all 3 of Kumble’s wicket came in the Australian first innings. Australia were  577 for 10 and Kumble took the wickets of Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, and Mitchell Johnson. Johnson was Kumble’s last test wicket. In Australia’s second innings Kumble got 4 out of the 8 overs bowled and failed to take a wicket as his last test match dragged towards a tame draw.

A Record Loss For Bangladesh

A Record Loss For Bangladesh

Bangladesh were playing their first overseas test since September 2014 and most of the responsibility was on Tamim Iqbal, Shakib Al Hasan, and the captain Mushfiqur Rahim. 

New Zealand with a balanced team had the home condition in favor of them. It was expected that Bangladesh would be wrapped up pretty quickly and easily by the Kiwis. New Zealand won the toss and elected to field first.

Bangladesh batsmen were putting up a decent performance with wickets falling in regular intervals. With help from Tamim Iqbal (56) and Monimul Haq (64), Bangladesh reached 154 for loss of 3 wickets at the end of day one. Rain interrupted the first day, also faced some bad light issue and the only 40 overs were played on the first day. Next Day Monimul returned early and Shakib Al Hasan was joined by the skipper. They continued to bat till Boult sent Mushfiqur Rahim to the pavilion. But by the time the job was done well by Shakib Al Hasan with a captainsque knock by Mushfiqur. They added 359 runs which is currently 4th highest partnership for the 5th wicket.

Shakib Al Hasan (Image- Getty Images)

Mushfiqur (159) were out when Bangladesh were on 519. Once he was gone, Shakib followed him after completing his double century. He became the first Bangladeshi to score a test double hundred (217). Even after both, the conquerors were gone, Bangladesh were going strong and with a contribution of unbeaten 54 from Sabbir Rahman Bangladesh reached 595 and declared the innings on the third day.

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In reply, New Zealand showcased what team work is all about. Latham scored 177 and rest of the bastmen except another opener Raval (27) Grandhomme (14) crossed at least 40 runs indicudually. The skipper Kane willamson ( 53), Taylor (40), Nicholls (53), Watling (49), and Santner (73) took the Kiwi score to 539. The two debutants, Subhasis Roy and Taskin Ahmed couldn’t do anything spending with the ball and ended up taking 2 and 1 wicket respectively. New Zealand not just avoided follow on but they were just trailing by 60 runs at the end of the first innings which was easily manageable.

Bangladesh started off well but wickets started falling just after reaching 50 runs. Shakib Al Hasan after the splendid double hundred in the first innings went out for a duck in the second innings. In fact, the whole middle order collapsed and Bangladesh were 66-4 from 63-2 in no time.  Bangladesh kept on losing wickets in regular intervals and only Sabbir Rahman could produce some sort of fight and scored another 50 in the second innings as well. Finally, Bangladesh were all out for just 160 runs. All of the Kiwi bowlers were brilliant and only the highest wicket taker, Boult’s economy rate was above 3.

Kane Williamson played another captain’s knock in the second innings and scored 104 off 90 balls. Taylor added 60 more and New Zealand comfortably with a lot of overs remaining.

Number of records are broken and made during the massive innings of Bangladesh. Few interesting are,

  • Shakib Al Hasan became only the 7th player to score a double ton and a duck in the same Test match. Last one to do the same was Shoaib Malik vs England in 2015.
  • Shakib and Mushfiqur’s 359-run partnership is the 2nd highest one in tests coming in a losing cause. Younis Khan and Mohammad Yousuf added 363 vs England in 2006 at Leeds.
  • Bangladesh’s 595/8 is the highest total for any team coming in losing cause in Tests. The previous highest is 586 by Australia against England at Sydney way back in 1894.

Hirwani Won Test For India With Sensational Debut – 8 Wickets In Each Innings

Hirwani Won Test For India With Sensational Debut – 8 Wickets In Each Innings

Post the retirement of the famous spin quartet, Bedi-Prasanna-Chandrasekhar-Venkat Indian team were struggling in their spin department. Ravi Shastri used to contain one end and played the role of an all-rounder. 

For other spinner’s spot, India had to depend on the bowlers like Shivlal Yadav and Arshad Ayub. Globally there was a dearth of good spinners with Pakistani leg spinner Abdul Qadir being the notable one. For India Laxman Sivaramakrishnan was a leg-spinning sensation who had a great start to his career but fizzled out quickly. In 1988 India launched their new leg spinner, 19-year old Narendra Hirwani. After his heroic performance in recently concluded Australia tour as a part of U-19, the selectors put faith on him. A bespectacled Hirwani from Madhya Pradesh made on this day won his debut test match against West Indies with absolute brilliance and dominance.

Narendra Hirwani (Image- Getty Images)

It was a very strong West Indies team captained by Viv Richards and consisted of players like Richie Richardson, Desmond Haynes, and Carl Hooper. India were missing their regular captain Dilip Vengsarkar following an injury and Ravi Shastri got his only chance to lead India in a test match. It was the 4th test match of the series scheduled to be held in Chennai (then Madras). It is suggested that the pitch was underprepared, however, it was only Hirwani who could use the pitch and the conditions at its best. India had two more newcomers to accompany Hirwani in the all-rounders Raman and Ajay Sharma.

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Despite a confident 69 from Arun Lal India were 156 for 5 when Kapil Dev walked in. Ajay Sharma (30) batted for two hours and added 113 for the sixth wicket. A rampant Kapil Dev added 109 off 124 balls and helped India to score 382 runs. Although conditions were of no help to pace bowlers, Courtney Walsh bowled superbly to take 3 important wickets of Indian side that included Srikanth, Amarnath, and Kapil Dev. West Indies team were all out for just 184 with only significant contribution from Viv Richards who produced some outstanding strokes to score 68 runs.

On his first day of test cricket as a bowler, Hirwani took 3 wickets. Once the openers were gone, Hirwani got the wickets of Richardson, Logie, and Hooper in the space of 34 runs. Not to forget that earlier his very over of test career was to Viv Richards and it was a maiden. On the third day, Hirwani got the prized scalp of Viv Richards when he deceived the master with a flipper. Richards played it towards the third man and was bowled. Narendra Hirwani got the dream wicket on his debut. Then Hirwani was on fire. He took all the remaining five wickets of West Indies to produce a brilliant figure of 18.3-3-61-8.

With a lead close to 200 runs India slowly built on it. Another debutant WV Raman played a matured innings to provide valuable runs along with Azharuddin and set a target of 416 for West Indies.

Hirwani started his magic early in the second innings and got both the openers before the score reached 25. Most of the West Indian players tried to hit out of the trouble but failed miserably to give Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More 5 stumpings in second innings. More’s performance was a good one in a difficult pitch and his collection of 5 stumpings in an innings and six in a match are still world records. Hirwani ran through the middle order and except some fight from Gus Logie and Clyde Butts rest of the players surrendered meekly. India won the match by 255 runs. There first test win over West Indies in close to ten years. Hirwani got another 8 wickets at the cost of 75 runs in the second innings (15.2-3-75-8)

His overall match figure of 16 for 136 was a world record improving on Australian Bob Massie’s 16 for 137 on debut. The record still holds in international cricket. However, Hirawani could not carry his good form in overseas tours and soon became irregular in the team. Once Anil Kumble rose through the ranks to take the position of India’s prime spinner, the chances for Hirwani was far and few between. But he continued to play domestic cricket and retired from first-class cricket in 2006.

Bodyline Series: When Woodfull Was Hit On Heart

Bodyline Series: When Woodfull Was Hit On Heart

86 years ago during 1932-33 Ashes tour of England in Australia the 22 yards witnessed few unforgettable moments in the history of cricket that almost gave birth to a war. 

Australian cricket was on the rise and they beat England at their home with a 2-1 scoreline in the previous Ashes series in 1930. The young Australian sensation Don Bradman scored 974 runs with a triple century and 2 double centuries and was a nightmare for all the English bowlers.

Douglas Jardine, the prolific batsman from Surrey was given the responsibility to lead the England team in the return Ashes tour in 1932-33. His first target was to hatch a plan to stop Bradman’s run scoring. Being an intelligent and pragmatic captain, Jardine with his mentor Percy Fender formed a plan to bowl fast, short balls attempting towards the body to create discomfort for Bradman and other Australian batsmen. Post a famous meeting in a hotel in Nottinghamshire, Jardine got his two main weapons in Harold Larwood and Bill Voce. Larwood was extremely quick with great control and leading the fast bowling pack in the tour.

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The test series started with much excitement at Sydney and the bowling towards batsman’s body or ‘Bodyline’ was visible from the first day with huge disapproval from the general Australian crowd. It turned into a heated environment with constant ‘boo’s targeted to Jardine and Larwood. Although England won the first test easily, Australia won the second test match to make it 1-1. But much drama was in store for the third test at Adelaide.

On 13th Jan, Jardine won the toss and decided to bat. England were in early trouble with the score at 30/4 but got some late order support from Leyland (83), Wyatt (78), Paynter (77) and Verity (45) and reached 341 on the stroke of tea on 2nd day, 14th Jan.

Image Source – Wikipedia

For Australia, their Captain Bill Woodfull opened with Jack Fingleton. Fingleton was soon gone bringing Bradman in the middle. The scenario was electric with the crowd on top of their voice. Larwood was also bowling beautifully and could make the ball swing into Woodfull. The last ball of his third over was a very fast and short one at the line of the middle stump and hit Woodfull on his heart. It was a terrible scene as Woodfull’s bat fell from his hand and he was on his knees holding his chest. The crowd went mad on anger and started abusing the English players. Jardine carries on with his strategy and told, “Well Bowled Harold” so that it could intimidate Bradman, standing nearby.

Once Woodfull was up after treatment, on the very next over Jardine applied Bodyline field, which included sending multiple fielders in the leg side, a clear indicator that they would target batsmen’s body. The crowd could not take more. They started protesting with mass hooting and jeering occurred after almost every ball. Even some of the England players were scared that there might be a riot and police might not be able to help them. It was one of the most theatrical afternoons of test cricket. Another quick ball hit Woodfull in the hand which resulted in his bat falling on the ground. After taking many such blows on his body Woodfull finally got out for 22. Later Bill Voce was injured and required a doctor, but the crowd thought it was Woodfull who required assistance, leading to a renewal of protest.

At the end of day’s play, the English team manager Pelham Warner went to meet Woodfull to show his sympathy. Woodfull’s response was to him was short and direct and became one of the famous quotes in the history of the game,

“I do not want to see you, Mr. Warner. There are two teams out there. One is playing cricket. The other is making no effort to do so.”

It was a fanatical test match and after a rest day on 15th, Australian wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield was also hurt when a ball hit on his temple resulted in more angry scenes among the crowd. Once the test match was over, the Australian board sent a cable to their MCC counterparts, complaining about the tactic appointed by Jardine which gave birth to some new sets of controversies.

When Australia Won Their First Cricket World Cup

When Australia Won Their First Cricket World Cup

Australia has been the undisputed champion in the world of cricket for decades. Be it male, or female cricket Australia has proved themselves always. On this day Australian women’s cricket team won the very first cricket world cup, male or female. 

The first women’s world cup was held in 1973, two years before the version of male counterpart began. The next was scheduled to be held in 1978 but women’s cricket was going through serious financial trouble. Following that West Indies and Holland withdrew their names from the world cup just before the announcement of tournament dates. So finally it was a clash among four teams- Australia, New Zealand, England the previous champion and India the debutant. Only India had some sort of chance of pulling audience for the women’s world cup and hence India was declared to be the host of the tournament.

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Due to a very few numbers of teams, the tournament was decided to be played in a round robin format without a final where each team meets all the contestants and winner is chosen based on the numbers without a final, unlike elimination format. However, the last match played between the two strongest teams, England Women and Australia Women.

Margaret Jennings (Image; www.cricketcounty.com)

Australia Women began their journey in an easy win over New Zealand. Wendy Hills helped Aussie to set a target of 177 and bowlers like Sharon Tredrea and Raelee Thomson defended the total very well and the Kiwis could only score 111 for 8. The host on the same day began their journey of women’s world cup began in a very unfortunate way against the defending champion.

Australia continued their victorious journey throughout the tournament and Sharon Tredea delivered with bat also against India and Peta Vecro with a brilliant bowling figure of 9-3-9-3 bundled India for just 79. Elsewhere on the same day England thrashed New Zealand and won easily by 7 wickets with 57 balls remaining.

As expected the finalists from the previous season were scheduled to meet on 13th January 1978 in the second women’s cricket world cup final. Electing to bat first England Women produced a miserable performance against the yellow women. Sharon was on fire. Her 4 wicket spell with assistance from Verco in no time made England crawl at 28 for 6. Only Thomas and Watmough could add a meticulously slow 21 for the second wicket. Thomas was joined by Shirley Hodges, the wicketkeeper and the two added another 22 for the seventh wicket. Hodges and Glynis Hullah survived till the last ball to put on a score of 96-8 for 50 Overs.

Despite that easy target, Australia were soon on 6 for 2. Thanks to Hullah for quickly sending Lorraine Hill and Hills back to the pavilion. The Aussies were in a tough situation but it was still under control. Janette Tredrea, sister of Sharon and the skipper Margaret Jennings approached the target with absolute calm. They were in no hurry. The goal was not to lose wickets anymore. Both remained unbeaten, Jennings on 57 and Janette on 37; and won the first ever world cup by 8 wickets for Australia, male or female.

England began their world cup journey in 1978 with a bit of controversy. Rachel Heyhoe- Flint, arguably the first great female cricket was dropped from the England squad. It had been rumored that her popularity wasn’t going well with the administration. Once they lost it in 1978, it took another 16 years for England to win it in 1993. For Australia, it was just the beginning of their dominance in the world of cricket. They went on to win the women’s version for three consecutive times starting from 1978 and eventually became the most successful team with 6 world cups.

21 Consecutive Maiden Overs By Bapu Nadkarni

21 Consecutive Maiden Overs By Bapu Nadkarni

In today’s world of T20 and global leagues, it sounds almost unbelievable that there was a time when cricket used to be played at snail’s pace. 

When a run rate of 2 runs per over in test matches was quite acceptable among players and fans. There are similar situations which occur during test matches even nowadays but those are few and far between.

Bapu Nadkarni, a left-arm spinner and bowling all-rounder for India was a great player from that era. He was famous for his accuracy and bowling at the same spot and maintaining same line and length for over after over. His career economy rate was below 2 and there were many spells where he displayed his great control and accuracy.

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But most famous of these spells occurred 55 years back on this day. It was 12th Jan 1964. India were hosting England in Chennai (then Madras) for the 5th test match of a series where all four previous test matches were drawn.

Bapu Nadkarni (Image: Getty Images)

Batting first, India scored 457 thanks to centuries from their wicket-keeper Budhi Kundaran and Vijay Manjarekar before declaring. India’s playing eleven consists of three spinners with Chandu Borde, Salim Durani and Nadkarni and England ended day two at 63/2. Nadkarni still did not bowl an over.

On day three, Nadkarni got a chance to bowl and kept bowling from one end with impeccable accuracy. The English duo of Brian Bolus and Ken Barrington decided not to take much risk and started defending everything. Nadkarni kept getting maidens after maidens but it did not impact his concentration and neither did he try to bowl something different. He bowled 21 consecutive maiden overs which is still a world record for the maximum number of consecutive maidens with 6-ball over in cricket. He bowled 131 consecutive deliveries and finally, a run were scored. Bolus and Barrington fought hard in front of Nadkarni and both registered extremely slow 50’s. Bolus’ effort resulted in 88 runs scored in nearly 7 hours whereas Barrington scored a 312-minute 80. Nadkarni ended the day with the analysis of 26 overs, 23 maidens, 3 runs, and zero wickets.

By the time, England got all out for 317 next day Nadkarni’s final analysis read 32-27-5-0. The entire England team crawled to 317 in 190 overs with a run rate of 1.66. Despite a sporting declaration from Indian captain Pataudi, the test match ended in a draw but remembered forever for Nadkarni’s Epic feat.

Nadkarni had quite a few top class performances for India including a century in the next test, a 10-wicket haul against Australia in the next season as well as a match-winning 6/43 against New Zealand in Wellington. However, cricket fans remember him for that one January afternoon where he kept bowling and bowling without giving hardly anything away.

When “The Original Little Master” Hanif Mohammad Crossed Don Bradman

When "The Original Little Master" Hanif Mohammad Crossed Don Bradman

Hanif Mohammad, the original ‘Little Master’ is arguably one of the most famous cricketers of Pakistan. He is one of the reasons behind the popularity of cricket in the nation. 

It was a glorious 499 on a winter morning in 1959 when Hanif Mohammad rewrote the history of cricket and crossed Don Bradman.

It was a first-class match of Quaid-eAzam Trophy between Bahawalpur and Karachi. Batting first, Bahawalpur were dismissed for 185 in their first innings. Karachi Parsi Institute Ground had a matting wicket in those days that was favorable for the seamers. Ikram Elahi and Mahmood Hussain made the most of the opportunity and took four and three wickets respectively. Bahawalpur were bowled out just before the tea on day one.

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Bahawalpur had a decent attack, led by Mohammad Ramzan but Karachi had a better line up with several star players with nine internationals. It was evident that the formidable side would aim for a huge total. What followed was a showcase of pure determination and class.

Hanif and Alimuddin ended the day at 59 without loss. The second day it was all about Hanif. He stood still, kept on playing his own game with utmost calm while batters at other end kept going in regular intervals after providing him decent supports. After Alimuddin departed on 68, Hanif and Waqar Hasan added 172 runs. Then Hanif was joined by his elder brother and they put up 103 for the third wicket.

By the end of the second day, Hanif was nearing a triple hundred and was reminded by his brother about Don Bradman’s first class record which was 452. He laughed it off but his brother and mother insisted to push for it. Hanif once revealed how Wazir ensured an olive oil massage for him that night so that he got a proper rest to go for the record the next day.

Concentration was never a problem for Hanif Mohammed. It came naturally to him and it was paid off well. Next day Mathias reached his own hundred and it was 602 for Karachi when the duo separated. Hanif was joined by another brother Mushtaq Mohammed. The siblings added another 39 and with the next batsman Mohammed Munaf, Hanif added 60 more. Bradman’s record 452 was broken with a smooth on-drive for four. But Hanif was determined to raise the bar after crossing his own individual highest of 228 and Bradman’s 452.

The end was abrupt and unfortunate. Hanif couldn’t reach 500, thanks to a scoreboard error. Two balls were still left on the third day and Hanif was on 498 but the manually operated scoreboard showed 496. Hanif played the next ball out to the point and went for a second. He failed to reach the crease on time and was run out. Initially, it seemed that he missed 500 by three runs but actually he missed it just by one run. He recalled about the incident once,

“They had been a little slow and hadn’t updated my score when I looked initially! I would never have pushed so hard if I knew I was on 498 and not 496.”

Karachi put a mammoth 772 and eventually won the match by an innings and 479 runs.

Hanif Mohammed was irritated. But messages from all over the world including one from the great Don of cricket himself made him feel better.  His record remained intact until 1994 when Brian Lara scored 501 not out for Warwickshire.

When Samarjit Nath Made A World Record On Debut

When Samarjit Nath Made A World Record On Debut

Like everything in life, even sports throw moments at times which is no less dramatic than a movie script. The story of Samarjit Nath, who made a world record on 10th January 2002 can be classified in that category.

It was a low key Ranji Trophy match in 2001-02 season between two east zone teams Assam and Tripura to be played at North-East Frontier Railway Stadium. Assam’s regular wicket-keeper was Syed Zakaria Zuffri who served Assam for around 12 years with a brief spell for Railways in between. However, he was unavailable for that match and Samarjit Nath was included in the team to manage the duties behind the stumps. Nath played age-group cricket for Assam successfully and was an expected replacement for Zuffri.

Samarjit Nath (Image: Espn Cricinfo)

Tripura batted first and by the end of the first day of the match which was the first day of First-class cricket for Nath, he had 7 victims, six catches and a stumping and was involved 7 out of 8 dismissals for Tripura. Next day Tripura folded for 216. Although Nath had no contribution in the 9th dismissal, he got his 8th victim when he caught Rasudeb Dutta of Gautam Dutta to end the innings.

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Assam was a much stronger team than Tripura and despite some early hiccup they finished at 411 and got a lead of 195 runs. Nath batted at number 10 scoring 12 runs with two boundaries.

Tripura finished the third day at 80 for 1 but Nath was involved in that dismissal to take his tally to 9th. On 10th January, the last day of the four-day match Tripura, fought hard to reach 288 for the loss of six wickets and the match was ended as a draw. However, Nath was involved in two more dismissals when he caught the nicks from two more Tripura batsmen to reach 11 dismissals in the match. With that, he achieved the world record for getting the maximum number of dismissals in the debut First-class match. There were more instances of players involved in 11 dismissals in a match but except Nath, no one achieved that on their debut match and that’s how this record was unique.

However, the twist in the tale is that, for Samarjit Nath, his debut first-class match was his only first-class match as surprisingly he was never called back by Assam selectors once the regular keeper Zuffri was back. Nath kept playing age group cricket before moving away from the cricketing scenes slowly.

This was one of those rare cricketing moment, where the main protagonist made such a dramatic entry to the scene but without any follow-up act and we would never know whether he had it in him to replicate the accomplishment he displayed in his first and only outing.


Romesh Kaluwitharana Sets A Trend During 1996 World Cup

Romesh Kaluwitharana

9th January 1996. It was the 9th match of the Benson & Hedges World Series in Melbourne between Australia and Sri Lanka. Australia batted first and scored a modest 213 for 5 thanks largely to a century from young Ricky Ponting.

Sri Lanka, who were thrashed by West Indies in their last match, started their chase and when the openers came out there was a surprise for everyone as regular opener Sanath Jayasuriya was partnered by their little, feisty wicket-keeper Romesh Kaluwitharana

Romesh Kaluwitharana, playing his 34th ODI, had the highest score of 31 till then. Interestingly, he opened for Sri Lanka in his first innings in international cricket in his second ODI, but post that he batted mostly in number 6, 7 or 8 and never opened. Never opened till 9th Jan 1996, when the team management took that inspiring decision to promote him to utilize the fielding restriction in place for the first 15 overs. And what a decision it was! Kaluwitharana blasted a 75-ball 77 with 12 boundaries and gave Sri Lanka a great start which finally resulted in a win for them.


Romesh Kaluwitharana (Image Source: Getty Images)

Romesh Kaluwitharana scored two more 50’s, one each against West Indies and Australia in next one week and a trend was set; a trend of sending a pinch hitter in the top of the order. Something which Martin Crowe briefly started with Mark Greatbatch during 1992 World cup but did not catch in till then. Kaluwitharana made the pinch-hitting opener fashionable and built a great partnership with Sanath Jayasuriya.

The 1996 Cricket World cup started just a month after the Australia tour was over. The world cup was scheduled in the sub-continent and matches were distributed between India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. However, Australia and West Indies refused to play in Sri Lanka due to the ongoing political unrest and hence forfeited their matches. Kaluwitharana played some quick-fire cameos in the tournament like 16-ball 26 against India and 18-ball 33 against Kenya and provided ample support to Jayasuriya who was in a murderous form.

Although Kaluwitharana did not score many in the knockouts, this strategy of pinch hitter did create confusion among certain teams which finally resulted in Sri Lanka getting the grand prize. They won their first World cup and their coach Dave Whatmore was credited for executing a new strategy perfectly.

Kaluwitharana mostly opened in rest of his careers for Sri Lanka which spanned for 189 matches till 2004. His highest score of unbeaten 102 came against England in 2001. He also had an unbeaten 95 against Australia in 1999.

This strategy of pinch hitter was replicated by all the teams with varying degrees of success. However, by late ’90s lots of other teams started playing with attacking batsmen at top of the order. Players like Adam Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag followed the path shown by Romesh Kaluwitharana and retired as legends.

Hence, it will be safe to say that the events of 9th January 1996 had an everlasting impact on One day cricket and was a key reason for its enhanced popularity from the ’90s till now.


Horace Dennis Smith- The Birthday Boy

Horace Dennis Smith- The Birthday Boy

Horace Dennis Smith, a New Zealand fast bowler who was born on 8th January 1913 has a unique record in his name.

Horace Dennis Smith was a right arm medium fast bowler from New Zealand debuted in test in 1933 against England at the age of 20. Herbert Sutcliffe was already sent back to the pavilion by Ted Badcock at the very first ball of the match. Then Smith came to bowl the first over of his test career. His first delivery cut back to hit the middle and leg stumps. Eddie Paynter was bowled at the first ball of second over and England were 4 for 2. It might have been three wickets down for England soon and Walter Hammond was dropped at slip in the first over. Then he went on to make a terrific 227 to put a mammoth score of 560 for England.


Incidentally, Smith became the tenth bowler in this history of test cricket to a wicket with his first ball. It became the only wicket of his entire test career that consisted of one test match.  After conceding 113 runs in 20 overs and not taking another wicket, Smith was named the twelfth man in the next test match and was never called back again for another test. Smith became the second bowler from New Zealand to have added such record against his name. The first one was Matt Henderson. He also played his single test match against England in 1930. His first wicket was Eddie Dawson in the first ball of his career. The one down batsman Kumar Shri Duleepsinhji became the second and last wicket of Henderson’s career. Henderson and Smith had one more similarity. While both of them took wickets of one of the openers in their respective maiden test matches, Ted Badcock took the other opener out in both the matches.

Smith played 11 matches in first-class cricket. He made his debut at a very young age of 18 for Otago. In Plunket shield in 1932-33, he took seven wickets at 14.00. With a highest score of 52, he also batted well to add 147 runs for Otago. His opening partner in his only test, Ted Badcock was his teammate in Otago team and Smith was replaced by another Otago colleague Jack Dunning in New Zealand test cricket team. He took a transfer to Canterbury for the 1933-34 season but his stunt for Otago was more effective. He played six times for Otago and four for Canterbury and took seventeen wickets at 33.52 and scored 404 runs with an average of 22.44. Smith stopped playing first-class cricket too after turning 21.

There are twenty bowlers till date in the history of test cricket who have taken the first wicket with the first ball of their career. But there are only two who have failed to make it to the second and of them is Horace Dennis Smith. Another one is Hardus Viljoen from South Africa. Hardus played his first and only test match till date in 2016 and like Smith, he also played it against England. Since he is still very much active in the cricket circuit, we can hope for his test come back which will eventually make Smith the lone bearer of such record.