Ornaments that could not be showcased in ODIs
By H Natarajan
The dust over India’s one-day series has settled, but debates about merits of the players can still be heard. In this rueful mood it’s inevitable that the mind meanders back in time, remembering greats of yesteryear. Time for another fantasy XI, this time an all-time great India eleven comprising players who never played in One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
Recently one heard Virender Sehwag say that it did not matter to him if he was batting in a Test or ODI; his approach was the same – pure aggression. If there is one opening batsman of the bygone era who adopted a similar approach it was Mushtaq Ali. His hundred in the 1936 Manchester Test in little over two hours symbolised his aggression and approach to batting.
My choice as Mushtaq’s opening partner is keeper-batsman Budhi Kunderan. He was one of the most flamboyant batsmen of his times, who was good enough to be picked on sheer batting merits. Against England in 1963-64, the dasher from Karnataka became the first ’keeper in history to score 500 runs in a Test series, with an innings of 192 as his best. He was as efficient behind the wickets, but he had to contend with the presence of Farokh Engineer. Having Mushtaq and Kunderan at the start would be akin to opening the innings with Sehwag and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
At one-drop, would be Polly Umrigar. The importance of a quality all-rounder in one-day cricket can never be underestimated and Umrigar is one of the many that my side boasts of. As a batsman, Umrigar earned the nickname of “Palm tree hitter” with his reputation for big-hits. He was a powerful stroke player who did not believe in eschewing the hook and the cut. He was outstanding anywhere in the field and as a bowler, could bowl medium-fast or slow. His brilliance and versatility will be a rich asset.
There can be no arguments about the man coming in at No 4 – the great CK Nayudu. He was one of the most amazing and consistent big-hitting batsmen the game has ever seen. His 153 (11 sixes & 13 fours) out of 187 in just over a hundred minutes against AER Gilligan’s 1926-27 MCC is considered among the great cricket classics. Another all-rounder who was good as a fielder as well.
Mansur Ali Khan, the captain, walks in at No 5. He was brilliant in playing the ball over the infield – a major plus in the overs-limit game. He was adventurous and innovative and played pace the moving ball better than most Indians of his time. As a fielder, he was one of the best in the world which is a huge bonus to the side.
The great Vinoo Mankad follows “Tiger” Pataudi in the order. A world-class all-rounder who in 1946 recorded the ‘double’ of 1000 runs and 100 wickets in England, Mankad is one player in the side who is capable of winning a match on his own.
At No 7 comes another worthy all-rounder in Lala Amarnath. His hundred on his Test debut at 22 epitomised the fire in him as a batsman. His 118 against Douglas Jardine's England in 1933 came in three electrifying hours against a high quality attack. As a medium-fast bowler, he was never easy to face as he bowled off the wrong foot.Dattu Phadkar comes in at No 8. Like Mankad and Amarnath, a quality all-rounder. Phadkar was an attacking batsman good enough to bat in the middle-order. He could move the ball both ways in the air and can be naggingly accurate as well.
Bapu Nadkarni, another all-rounder, follows Phadkar. Though the great Vinoo Mankad provides value to the side as a left-arm spinner, 10 frugal overs from Nadkarni can prove to be decisive. When it came to parsimony, there was none better than Nadkarni. He was one of the game's most noted economist ever who gave away just 1.67 runs per over over in his Test career.
Ladhabhai Nakum Amar Singh would be the No 10 player in my side. “There is no better bowler in the world today than Amar Singh,” said Sir Len Hutton in 1970. That comment spoke volumes for Amar Singh. On the 1936 tour of England, he was so good that Wally Hammond said the Indian came like a “crack of doom” off the pitch. Amar Singh batted even as high as No 4 in the order and made runs as well. But for his unfortunate death at just 29, the world would have heard and seen much of Amar Singh as an all-rounder.
The likes of Shane Warne, Muttiah Muralitharan and Anil Kumble have proved what spinners can achieve in one-day cricket. If there was one quality leggie of yesteryear who would have been a handful in one-day cricket, it has to be Subhash Gupte. He achieved mastery over his control and flummoxed the best with his repertoire that included two varieties of googlies. Arguably, the greatest leggie the game has seen.
The side thus has a batting line-up that runs deep down to No 10 and a bowling that has Lala Amarsingh and Dattu Phadkar sharing the newball, with Lala Amarnath coming in as first change. The side has three spinners in leggie Subhash Gupte and left-armers Vinoo Mankad and Bapu Nadkarni. That’s six frontline bowlers. Besides, there is quality back-up in the form of Polly Umrigar and CK Nayudu.
The 12th man of my side would be Rusi Surti, dubbed as the “Poor man’s Sobers” with Chandu Borde, Salim Durrani and Gulabrai Ramchand as the reserves.
It’s a pity that their international career was over before the advent of one-day cricket.
Dream Team of Indian players who never played ODIs:
1. Mushtaq Ali
2. Budhi Kunderan (wk)
3. Polly Umrigar
4. CK Nayudu
5. MAK Pataudi (captain)
6. Vinoo Mankad
7. Lala Amarnath
8. Dattu Phadkar
9. Bapu Nadkarni
10. Lala Amarsingh
11. Subhash Gupte
12th man: Rusi Surti
Reserves: Chandu Borde, Salim Durani and GS Ramchand.