It was the winter of 1991-92. I had just got introduced to this wonderful game called cricket, and about a month earlier had seen my first ever full one day international (on TV, of course). India had thrashed Australia at Perth. Ravi Shastri had taken 5-15 but still the man of the match award went to Srikkanth who made 60. This was two days after I had turned nine.
India was touring Australia and cricket craze hit me. It hit me so bad I couldn’t have enough of cricket. In a few days’ time I’d pulled out all the newspapers in my house and rummaged through them for cricket scorecards and stories. I remember getting fascinated reading about the England-West Indies series of 1991. And while going through the newspapers I saw that there was a Ranji trophy match on, and it was being broadcast live on radio. Out came my grandfather’s ancient pocket transistor.
The game was being played at Kolar Gold Fields (an ironic choice considering the Cauvery riots were on – the reason I had holidays from school and could indulge in luxuries like listening to Ranji commentary). On the first day, Karnataka had bowled Goa out cheaply, with Anil Kumble (i think) doing most damage. Goa had this left arm spinner in their line-up called Arun Shetty, and on the second day, he was spinning webs around the Karnataka batsmen. He took a 5-for that day, most of them bowled. Only one man was able to resist him. That also happened to be the day Rahul Dravid made his first first-class century.
Karnataka duly won the game by 10 wickets, with Dravid’s 100 being the difference between the teams in the first innings. Karnataka would go on to massacre Kerala and Andhra, while they drew Hyderabad after conceding a large first innings lead. Tamil Nadu were beaten by one wicket, but some silly points system in the Ranji meant that Karnataka, with four wins and a draw didn’t go through while Hyderabad and TN, with three wins each made it to the knockouts.
Unfortunately I don’t think I followed any other Ranji season as closely as that one, until cricinfo came along that is. Forget international matches (India’s tour of Australia, world cup, etc.), I would know the scorecards of most Ranji matches. At the ripe age of ten, I was able to provide insightful commentary on domestic cricket, on Indian team selections, and so forth. Sadly, I would never play the game.
Nowadays occasionally when I’m trying to take a break from work, I pick a random Ranji season from the 1990s and start looking up the scorecards. First the scorecards of all the South Zone matches (remember that Ranji was zonal in those days)., and then the knockouts. I remember that in one of the seasons in the early 90s, there were no draws at all in the knockouts (or maybe there were one or two here and there) – a far cry from nowadays when hardly one innings gets completed. And then I go on to look at the Duleep Trophy scorecards from the season – and these are the most interesting since I’m likely to know more players there.
It’s an awesomely good feeling to find a scorecard of a match that I remember, and I don’t know why but each time this happens I’m reminded of that game at KGF, the first one I followed, when Rahul Dravid made his first first-class century.