Written by Sandip G
| New Delhi |

Published: February 4, 2020 4:32:52 am

The 1998 semifinal featured a number of gamers who had performed, or went on to play, for India, together with one Rahul Dravid.

Karnataka and Hyderabad have been pleasant foes over time. The 1998 semifinal featured a number of gamers who had performed, or went on to play, for India, together with one Rahul Dravid. The nervous power and the warmth & humidity examined the groups’ resolve and health, because the match went all the way down to the wire and had an unlikely hero.

A privately-treasured 51-second footage stays the one materials proof, aside from the scorecard, of one of the crucial thrilling finishes in Ranji Trophy historical past —when Karnataka beat Hyderabad by one wicket to succeed in the 1998 ultimate. The movie is brilliant however grainy, recorded from the tv with a handy-cam, and the commentators’ voice includes incoherent mutterings.

The clip consists of two deliveries. The final two balls of the sport, shot from behind the batsman.

It begins abruptly. Venkatapathy Raju jumps into the body, pitter-pattering from across the wicket, virtually brushing the umpire. The digital camera then pans to a batsman in a white dishevelled shirt that’s virtually twice as massive as his body. He hangs again and cuts the ball behind level with sufficient energy to succeed in the fence, via a largely brown outfield. Just a few males in white t-shirts and tracksuits intrude on the pitch. The digital camera sparkles to the pavilion the place skipper Rahul Dravid is frantic, gesturing one thing on the batsmen within the center, then high-fiving with teammates. The lens is again on Raju’s strategy to the wicket. The batsman thrusts his entrance foot and drives him emphatically via mid-off. He turns again and smiles wistfully.

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He is Dodda Ganesh, who treasures the 51-second recording. Dravid goes wild, waves his arms as furiously as Sourav Ganguly on the Lord’s balcony, however with out eradicating his t-shirt. Ganesh is swarmed by his teammates. The footage ends as abruptly because it begins.

The story ends with the 2 balls. Rather, the 2 balls finish what’s a exceptional story.


It’s the scorching Hyderabad that’s nonetheless contemporary in Dravid’s reminiscence. When the gamers got here out of the flight, they felt they’d jumped right into a furnace. Their pores and skin was fleecing, the eyes have been burning and shirts sweat-soaked. “It was unbelievably hot, dry, draining heat. I felt an immediate sympathy to our pace bowlers,” Dravid recollects to . Every week later, quickly after the match concluded, a extreme heatwave swept throughout Andhra Pradesh and its then capital, claiming a whole bunch of lives and culminating in one of many harshest droughts the state endured within the final century. The intense warmth prompted the organisers to shift the match from the concretised Lal Bahadur Shastri Stadium to the extra leafy Hyderabad Gymkhana Stadium, lined with nonetheless bushes.

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The warmth, Dravid knew, would give an instantaneous benefit to Hyderabad. On two fronts. “Ours was a predominantly medium-pace-centric attack, as Anil (Kumble) was on India duty and Sunil (Joshi) had just returned to the team. So it was on (Dodda) Ganesh and Mansur (Ali Khan) to get us the wickets. Hyderabad at that time had two of the finest spinners around, Kanwaljit Singh and Venkatapathy Raju. We were the clear underdogs, I felt,” he says.

The Hyderabad spin twins had a telepathic understanding of one another’s craft. “With a bowler of Raju’s quality at the other end, you don’t have to worry. A disciplined bowler at the other end makes your job easier and the other way around. We switched roles, when he could attack, I would support, and vice versa,” says Kanwaljit.

It additionally meant that with the solar beating down mercilessly, the strip would deteriorate quickly. The first sight of the pitch and the outfield confirmed Dravid’s worst fears. “I’ve never seen such a barren outfield. There was hardly any grass, and given their strengths, I knew the pitch would be incredibly difficult to bat last. If you don’t win the toss, you have already one feet out of the match,” he says.

Hyderabad’s considerations have been completely different; lacking have been two of their finest-ever batsmen, Mohammad Azharuddin and VVS Laxman, away in Sharjah, the place Sachin Tendulkar would whip up the Desert Storm. The latter was in the course of his breakthrough season, having blasted 611 runs – together with a triple hundred – at a median of 203. “Probably if those two were around, we could have won the Ranji Trophy,” opines Raju. But Karnataka would disagree — they have been with out Javagal Srinath, Kumble and Venkatesh Prasad. In the tip, there was an equilibrium of types.

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As destiny performed out, Hyderabad received the toss and batted first with out hesitation. It was a protracted, tiring day within the center, and the hosts ended the primary day on 200/3. “By tea, I was so tired that I felt we had been on the field for two days. We bowled a lot of loose balls and failed to sustain pressure,” confides Ganesh.

By that point, Ganesh had performed the final of his 4 Tests and an ODI for the nation. But he was nonetheless fuelled by the dream of representing India once more, and moments like these, he thought, would outline him. “I thought these are the challenges I should pass to return to the team. So I analysed where I had gone wrong and realised I was bowling way too outside the off-stump. I needed to bowl more at the stumps, because the odd ball was keeping low. I also realised that bowling short intense four-five over spells was better than bowling 8-9 at one stretch,” he remembers.

So started Ganesh —”one of many hardest fighters I’ve seen,” in accordance with Dravid – on the second day. He got here first change and ran via the center order. From 231 for 3, Hyderabad plunged to 233 for seven. Though No.10 Narender Singh freewheeled to a counter-punching 28, swelling the overall to 283, Dravid felt the rating was inside their grasp. Ganesh, not for the primary time within the match, returned to the dressing room a hero. “There was something in him, a desire to prove his critics wrong perhaps. It was still a very good total, but if we could manage a lead of 100-120 more runs, we would have the upper hand,”says Dravid.

They gave the impression to be heading in the right direction, after Sujith Somasundar and J Arunkumar bought them off to a rollicking begin. Realising that batting on the monitor might develop into progressively worse, they latched onto something that was marginally free. But as soon as Kanwaljit struck rhythm, Karnataka started to lose wickets in a heap. His three-wicket burst restored the stability at stumps on the second day.

That evening on the lodge, Dravid stored visualising the best way he would strategy his innings. “Use the feet, disrupt the length, don’t let them make use of the rough,” he instructed himself. But he additionally knew that each Kanwaljit and Raju have been adequate to get wickets even with out a lot help from the floor.

Soon upon resumption, Karnataka misplaced their final recognised batsman, Vijay Bharadwaj. But with Sunil Joshi, Dravid blunted Kanwaljit. It was an engrossing battle of wits, a grasp batsman encountering a masterful bowler. Dravid knew he couldn’t look to play the off-spinner out, for he might hold bowling unchanged all through the day. Kanwaljit did bowl almost 40 overs. Dravid endured a few shut shaves, however quickly grew in confidence and sometimes counter-attacked too. “He read me beautifully and made me think hard. He would defend soundly, but he would punish the loose balls ruthlessly. Anything tossed up, he would come down the track and defend. Anything short, he would late-cut. And he was not letting me bowl at the rough,” recollects Kanwaljit.

Finally, the virtuoso off-spinner caved in. Dravid, who had misplaced rely of the pair of gloves and shirts he had modified, sensed liberation. Karnataka have been simply 50 runs in need of eclipsing Hyderabad’s whole. “Yeah, I thought I could play with a bit more freedom, but then I played a loose shot to get out. A rank short-ball by Danny (Daniel Manohar) and I pulled it straight to square leg where Nand Kishore took a tumbling coach. I cursed myself in the dressing room as I was the guy the team was relying to get a big hundred. I was so aghast that I kept cursing the shot until I reached the hotel.”

With Dravid gone, Kanwaljit wiped off the decrease order. Though the guests managed a 26-run lead, it was hardly a comfort as they needed to bat final on what was turning out to be a depraved turner. Karnataka was feeling the warmth once more, each literal and metaphorical. The very considered the warmth, mud and switch had Dravid’s head whirling.


After the second day, the groups dined collectively on the residence of Hyderabad supervisor and considered one of their heyday stalwarts ML Jaisimha. Though each groups have been South Zone powerhouses, in perpetual competitors to outmatch one another, they have been pleasant foes exterior the turf. Dravid corrects: “Even on the field, we always kept sportsmanship first. Despite this being a close match, we hardly sledged each other. The game was always played in the right spirit.”

But the following day, they might compete fiercely, Hyderabad grimly stretching their lead and Karnataka preventing to maintain it inside their attain. The pitch had was a mud bowl, and Karnataka opened with Sunil Joshi. But it was Ganesh once more who placed on a heroic act, out-bowling each Joshi and Bharadwaj. “I remember Rahul was thinking to open with two spinners, but I went up and snatched the new ball from him. I can easily tell you, this is easily the best I have bowled. Heat, slow pitch, but I kept pounding in. I think I bowled a long first spell at full tilt.”

Everyone of the Hyderabad prime six bought begins, however couldn’t cross 39. How they missed the steadiness of Laxman and the effervescence of Azhar! In the tip, they set Karnataka 154, a goal they felt was not insurmountable however defendable. “The way Kanwal was bowling, the rhythm he had struck, I thought we had a great chance of winning the match. It was a minefield to bat on, but the key was getting Dravid out cheaply,” Raju says.

Kanwaljit and Raju spent the complete night plotting his dismissal. Finally, they arrived at a plan. The pitch was turning and there was uneven bounce too. So moderately than luring him right into a stroke with flighted deliveries, hold bowling quicker and flatter on off-stump in order that he might miss a supply and get trapped in entrance. Early on, even Dravid might miss one. The instinct labored completely, as Kanwaljit nailed him in entrance of the wicket. Karnataka, after the opening stand of 43, have been hurtling headlong into the abyss of defeat. Joshi was their final flame of hope however part-time offie Santosh Yadav snuffed him out. Karnataka have been nonetheless 37 runs adrift with simply three wickets remaining. “That’s it, I thought. Hyderabad would win this match and probably go on to win the Ranji Trophy. This was their best chance in several years,” displays Dravid. But for Ganesh’s final stamp of heroism, captured within the 51-second reel.


Just a few days earlier than the match, Ganesh had a dream. Recoiled within the nook of a room, he was weeping. The photos stored recurring all through the match. It mirrored his mindset — axed from the Indian crew after a disappointing collection within the West Indies and uncertain of whether or not he would get one other shot in India stripes. “I was in a negative state of mind. I felt I could have done better and that was eating into me. People were saying he has the skills to play for the country but lacked the composure,” he says.

Ganesh wasn’t the one one nursing grouses. Dravid was neglected for the one-day collection because the selectors thought he batted too slowly for this format. Kanwaljit had missed out on the tour to West Indies. Though India captain Sachin Tendulkar had particularly requested for him, the selectors as an alternative dispatched his state-mate Noel David. Raju, too, was desperately bidding for a comeback. It’s pure then that the climax of the competition was stuffed with accrued nervous power. “I was all fuelled by the India snub and desperate to do anything to be back in the reckoning,” Ganesh says.

So within the direness of the state of affairs — Karnataka have been 127 for eight when he marked his guard — Ganesh sensed a shard of hope. “If I could hit the winning runs, people would stop saying that I crack under pressure, which I did on my Test debut. I just wanted to show that I have nerves of steel,” he says.

His game-plan was easy. Knock the ball round and provides the strike to P Srinivasa Murthy, who had the status of hitting massive pictures. But the latter was all at sea in opposition to Kanwaljit. So Ganesh swapped roles. “I went and told him that I will go for the big shots and just run the last ball for a single, no matter what.”

It labored for 3 overs, earlier than Raju dived and stopped a single off the final ball of his over. Kanwaljit snared Murthy within the subsequent over. In walked the now Karnataka bowling coach Mansur Ali Khan, who then had a batting common of 4. Karnataka have been 17 runs away. “I had to take risks, somehow find a couple of boundaries and run singles off the last ball,” remembers Ganesh.

Hyderabad would carry the sector up for the final two balls. All 9 outfielders have been making an attempt to avoid wasting the only. Dravid sensed one thing historic unfurling, although he might hear his coronary heart pounding. And then Ganesh nicked one between the wicketkeeper and slip. Ganesh thought he would run three, however the ball had sufficient pace to succeed in the boundary.

The subsequent six balls have been the longest in Ganesh’s life. Ali confidently blocked the primary ball, Kanwaljit beat him with the second and third. The fourth turned massive on Ali and took his glove to the short-leg fielder. “It was a dolly, hung in the air for a long time, but Danny (Manohar) somehow dropped it,” dusts up Dravid, who now certainly thought the match was theirs. A nudge right here, a clip there, and Karnataka was inside touching distance. Seven runs to win the match. Six would suffice, as that they had the first-innings lead.

In walked Raju. “We were still confident. All it takes is one ball.” An in depth lbw shout was turned down. Off Raju’s arm-ball that fizzed into Ali’s pads. Ali went for the large heave, however miscued it straight into the air. Raju was shouting at Manohar, who spilled it once more. “We were simply destined to lose the match.” A stolen single and Karnataka was one shot away.

At the opposite finish, Ganesh determined to take future into his personal fingers. Just one boundary, he muttered to himself and scanned the sector. His eyes met the vacant area behind level. “Bowlers don’t expect tail-enders to late cut. So I did just that, waited on the back-foot and employed the late-cut. It’s the first time I played that shot in a real match. Of course, I learned it watching Dravid.”

It’s the primary shot of the 51-second footage. It levelled the scores and Karnataka have been via. Some of the Karnataka supporters and gamers thought the match was over and invaded the pitch. “Just a single”, shouted Dravid and Co. from the pavilion. But Ganesh knew knocking singles round wasn’t his stuff. He went for an formidable off-drive. Uppish however away from the fielders. Ganesh’s thoughts went clean. “I had a blackout or something like that.” The subsequent factor he remembers was weeping within the nook of the dressing room, albeit tears of pleasure.


Of these India hopefuls and rejects, solely Dravid went on to forge a exceptional profession. Raju and Joshi performed just a few extra Tests, however as stopgaps when both Kumble or Harbhajan Singh was injured.

Raju, although, performed his position within the epic 2001 Eden Gardens Test in Kolkata, the place he prised out Mark Waugh with an arm-ball on the ultimate afternoon. He was additionally part of the dressing room dialogue between supervisor Chetan Chauhan and Laxman, the place the latter mentioned he was assured of pulling off a victory when all appeared misplaced.

Kanwaljit lived with the remorse that he might by no means symbolize India; Manohar turned a world match referee, Nand Kishore an umpire; Vijay Bharadwaj had his days, however his shortcomings on the worldwide degree have been uncovered.

And then there was Ganesh, whose finest efforts went unrequited. But if he felt so, he would simply flick his fingers via the 51-second footage.

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