A moment to cherish
N J Ravi Chander
I spent countless hours playing outdoors during my childhood days in Bengaluru. Like most children, I aspired to make it big someday. So I worked hard, jogging, exercising and pumping iron, to keep fit.
The hard yards paid rich dividends as I bagged medals and trophies in school and college. My younger siblings were also competent athletes, and it was no surprise that we had a trophy cabinet filled with sports memorabilia.
I began playing league cricket in 1979, after joining Coles Cricket Club, a fourth division team that practised at the Indian Gymkhana Grounds in Cox Town. The club had two squads – seniors and juniors – that participated in the fourth and fifth division league. When the league matches commenced in July, the team considered me capable of playing for the senior team.
Our season opener was against Rajajinagar Cricket Club (RCC), who won the toss and took the first strike on a featherbed. After that, however, their batsmen faltered and caved in for a modest 176.
When our turn came to bat, we fared worse, losing nine wickets with just 108 on the board. I was still at the crease, yet to get off the mark, when the last man, Surender Rao Chavan, walked into the middle. Our rivals had their tails up by now, and with their pacers breathing fire and brimstone, the few spectators at the ground wrote us off, and some even started making their way back.
A few balls later, a snorter grazed my gloves and flew into the wicketkeeper’s gloves. Then, just as the bowler began his victory dance and I stood crestfallen looking at the heavens, the umpire hollered, “no-ball”. It was a godsend!
Soon our resolve hardened as we stoutly played out the initial balls faced. We set small targets, and after fulfilling them, we grew more confident. We stole the singles and two’s, crunched the odd boundary and soldiered on.
Finally, as the target whittled down, the opposition players grew dispirited, and their bowling turned wayward, making our task more manageable. The win arrived when I dispatched a full toss to the long-on boundary to trigger celebrations.
The players, unable to conceal their joy, swept into the ground, hauled us on their shoulders and trooped back to the pavilion. Chavan and I had put on a jaw-dropping 70 runs for the last wicket. The match report in the Deccan Herald newspaper bore the caption, “Last wicket pair get victory for Coles”.
Later in May 1987, I led Spencers Cricket Club to a thrilling three-run victory in the Bangalore Cup Limited Over’s Cricket Tournament played at the St. Joseph’s New Fields. Our adversaries Karnataka Power Corporation Cricket Club (KPCCC), having lost seven wickets, required three runs to win in the last over. With the odds stacked against us, I brought myself on.
My first ball, an innocuous delivery, was skied straight to long-on. Our hopes of pulling off a miracle rose! The next batsman in went for a wild heave and was pouched too. I was on a rare hat-trick!
The feat was accomplished when I cleaned up number eleven with a well-directed yorker. The next day the headline on the sports page screamed “Ravi Chander hat-tricks for Spencers CC”, and I was over the moon. I cherish these two victories more than the others!
(The author is a former banker and a regular contributor to Kashmir Vision)