Monday, November 6, 2017

Off-cutters: Fun trivia ahead of Mumbai's 500th Ranji Trophy match

Eknath Solkar was blooded as a 19-year-old to play against Saurashtra at Jamnagar in 1967. Mumbai skipper Manohar Hardikar's opening bowlers Ramakant Desai and Umesh Kulkarni had no early success. Off-spinner Sharad Diwadkar too couldn't separate Saurashtra's opening pair of Vinoo Majithia and Jitu Shah. Solkar was given the ball and claimed Saurashrtra's first six batsmen in the space of 37 runs. Diwadkar and Baloo Gupte sent back the rest of the batsmen in the Saurashtra team which were led by the Maharaja of Nawanagar.

Eknath Solkar
Eknath Solkar

The Mumbai team had six Test players (Madhav Apte, Manohar Hardikar, Ramnath Kenny, GS Ramchand, Naren Tamhane and Ramakant Desai) when Ajit Wadekar made his Ranji Trophy debut - against Madras in February 1959. Arvind Apte would make his India debut in England later in the year and of course, Wadekar was a future Test player too, earning selection eight years later.

Pace bowler Abdul Ismail, who many experts felt should have donned India colours, ended his Ranji Trophy career with 198 wickets in 1977-78, the season when Mumbai did not qualify for the knock out round. During his eight-year career, the bespectacled toiler claimed 10 wickets in a match thrice.

The Mumbai team travelling to Karnataka for the 1986-87 Ranji QF were pleasantly surprised to see Sunil Gavaskar at Bombay Central station before boarding their train to Bangalore. Gavaskar arrived to wish his team well for the big match.

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