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An epic cricket match in 1973 domestic circuit: Tamil Nadu vs. Bombay

Although domestic cricket matches are neglected in India nowadays, the domestic circuit has produced many memorable matches. In this article, the author discusses the epic final match of Ranji Trophy played at Chepauk Stadium during 18, 20-21st April, 1973. Cricket-lovers must not miss it!

Nowadays cricket has changed a lot. Most of the spectators want to enjoy the ODIs. Some want a more action-packed circus which is called T-20. The longer version of cricket is not generating that much interest which it used to generate 25 years ago. The present hectic lifestyle is also responsible for this change in attitude.

It is quite natural that domestic cricket has almost lost the attention of spectators. Nowadays, even in the Ranji Trophy final or in Irani Trophy, very few spectators go to the stadium to watch the match. No radio commentary is heard. Television channels don't telecast the matches. But earlier, cricket-loving people used to throng the cricket grounds to watch domestic cricket. There have been some extremely well-fought matches in domestic cricket circuit. This article describes one such epic match between Tamil Nadu and Bombay (now Mumbai) played at Chepauk Stadium of Madras (now Chennai) during 18, 20 and 21st April, 1973.

Tamil Nadu planned to challenge the dominance of Bombay

In those days, Bombay was the undisputed king of the domestic cricket circuit in India. In this particular match, the star-studded Bombay team was led by Ajit Wadekar and it included Gavaskar, Ashok Mankad, Eknath Solkar, Dileep Sardesai and Ramnath Parker, besides one of the greatest spinners and the most unlucky Indian cricketer, Padmakar (Paddy) Sivalkar, who later became the hero of this match. Tamil Nadu team was led by Venkatraghaban, the great off-spinner and included another great but unlucky spinner Vaman Kumar, Kalyanasundaram and AG Satwender Singh. The pitch of Chepauk was tailor-made to suit Venkat and Vaman Kumar, the two spinners of Tamil Nadu. Tamil Nadu players were 100% determined to win the Ranji Trophy.

But Bombay won the toss

Ajit Wadekar won the toss, read the pitch well and elected to bat. He clearly understood that the pitch would be a turner and the fourth inning would be crucial. Venkatraghaban, the Tamil Nadu captain, took the charge of bowling very soon. Spin was introduced only after a couple of overs and Venkat and Vaman Kumar started bowling brilliantly. They hit the deck very early and started turning the ball sharply. Bombay lost Gavaskar and Wadekar very quickly, but Ashok Mankad and Ajit Naik started playing with determination and intelligence. At lunch of the first day, Bombay was 102 for 4.

After lunch, Bombay started losing wickets very quickly. Another batting great, Dileep Sardesai was out quickly, and ultimately, Bombay was skittled out at 151. Ashok Mankad was the highest scorer with 38. Venkat's bowling analysis was 30.5-11-60-5 and Vaman Kumar's was 27-11-48-5.

Tamil Nadu's first inning

Tamil Nadu lost the openers very quickly. Sivalkar also started turning the ball and took the wicket of Mirza, one of the openers. The first day's game was over.

The astonishing second day

19th April, 2018 was declared the rest day, which was a little bit astonishing. On that day, Sivalkar inspected the pitch and intimated Eknath Solkar, his hotel room-mate, about the strategy he would adopt the next day. He told Solkar that the next day he would flight the ball, irrespective of the consequences. Sivalkar knew what he would be going to do.

Tamil Nadu resumed their first inning on 20th Apil, 1973. Sivalkar started his magic. Bombay players thought that they would not be able to defend their meager first-inning total of 151, but Sivalkar thought otherwise. He proved on that day why many cricket-experts called him the best left-arm bowler of the world, much ahead of his famous contemporaries Bishan Singh Bedi and Derek Underwood of England. He simply bamboozled Tamil Nadu batsmen with his flighted left-armer. He brought out all his weapons from his armory. He single-handedly destroyed the determination of Tamil Nadu players. The entire team was polished off with an aggregate of 80. Sivalkar's astonishing bowling analysis was 17.5-10-16-8. Solkar and Ajit Naik took one wicket each.

Bombay's second innings

After lunch, Bombay batsmen came out to bat with a much-relaxed mind because they got the crucial first-innings lead thanks to Sivalkar. But in the viciously turning track, they again failed miserably. All three batting greats of Bombay, Gavaskar, Wadekar and Sardesai again failed. Kalyansundaram, Venkat, Mukund and Vaman Kumar made combined effort to finish Bombay at only 113. Again the shadow of defeat loomed large over Bombay.

Again Sivalkar's magic

Sivalkar was again at his terrible best in the second inning of Tamil Nadu. But this time, he was supported by Solkar. In the last hours of the second day and till lunch of the third day, they jointly polished off Tamil Nadu. The host team scored only 61. Solkar took 5 for 23 and Sivalkar 5 for 18! Bombay again won the Ranji Trophy!

Final few words

This epic match produced many records. Sivalkar's 13 wickets for 34 runs and the brilliant performance of Venkatraghaban and Vaman Kumar are still well-known. The individual highest score of the match was Ashok Mankad's 38 in the first innings of Bombay. On the second day, total 27 wickets fell out of which 13 were 'ducks'. But above all, this epic domestic match is known all over the world. The spectators could not even leave their seats during the entire match. The twenty-two players of the team rated this match as the best match of their life. This great match proved why cricket is called a sport of 'glorious uncertainties'.

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Author: DR.N.V. Srinivasa Rao13 Apr 2018 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

These days no one is interested to see domestic matches. But during the 70s there was a big craze for the Ranji Matches. Many people used to move out with small pocket radios hearing the commentary. The commentators were so perfect we are able to visualise the ball by hearing them. The batsmen used to hang around by playing defensive shots. I witnessed 3 Ranji Matches during my student days. The attendance was very good those days.

The author very nicely explained the match he has chosen. Those days Indian spinners were very famous and all the pitches of India were made in such a way that it will be helpful to spinners from day one itself.

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