Of lively tales, Jimmy and Tommy
Prakash strike saves Bagan the blushes
Bhupathi, Knowles out
CAllaying wins Fillies Stakes
Pune tips

 
 
OF LIVELY TALES, JIMMY AND TOMMY 
 
 
BY LOKENDRA PRATAP SAHI
 
 
Naye ho? Tab to kaafi kuch seekhna hai... Chalo baitho.” That was the pipe-smoking Lala Amarnath’s way of acknowledging this reporter’s greetings during the rain-hit India versus Pakistan Test in Jalandhar, back in the autumn of 1983.

Lalaji, then, was in the midst of one of his legendary story-telling innings. That interruption over, the captain extraordinary continued.

He talked of a certain Begum’s infatuation with the late Vinoo Mankad. And vice-versa. He also spoke about interacting with the “Bade Nawab” and the “Chote Nawab.”

Lalaji, of course, was talking of the late Iftikhar Ali Khan Pataudi and his son, ‘Tiger.’

Soon enough someone asked about the best hookers. For a moment, only, it seemed Lalaji would hook that gentleman.

Yeh bhi koi sawaal hai? Lala Amarnath and Jimmy (son Mohinder) Amarnath. Aur kaun ho sakta hai?”

We were in splits.

No ‘admonishment’ could have been more friendly. No raconteur more delightful.

Lalaji earned various labels, but didn’t ever rue not having been an Establishment boy. Today, though, is not the time to be influenced by any one label...

At different times, Lalaji would also talk of “Tommy (the other Test-playing son, Surinder)” — and, yes, there would always be a tinge of regret he didn’t make half as many comebacks as Jimmy.

It’s not that Lalaji only spoke of the Amarnaths’ hooking prowess or just talked about Jimmy and Tommy (youngest son Rajinder never quite made it): He had an opinion on anything associated with Indian cricket.

Typically, Lalaji didn’t mince words — something which, in 1936, led to his being sent home from England (a formal Board inquiry later cleared him). If you differed with Lalaji’s school of thought, he invariably moved into a higher josh-gear.

Eventually, one ended up endorsing his thoughts. Or else, a string of expletives — all in good humour — would follow.

Perhaps, not many know Lalaji would insist the India flag be prominently placed in/around the dressing-room. Probably didn’t get as noticed as his trademark red handkerchief (Mohinder, by the way, would do a Lalaji), but that gesture remains a statement.

Lalaji’s feats have been well-chronicled, his being India’s first Test centurion (118 against England, December 1933) occupying the top spot. Not so well-known, perhaps, is that being Lahore-born he was phenomenally popular across the border as well.

One saw that in person, on the 1984-85 tour of Pakistan.

Years after quitting (1952-53), Lalaji carved a niche of sorts on a different turf: The Media.

In fact, Lalaji’s inimitable drawl endeared him to the listeners of commentary both over radio and the early years of TV. Hardly anybody would mind his constant reference to the new-ball as “that red cherry.”

Goes without saying Lalaji would always pretty much be spot-on.

“He was a complete cricketer. Besides batting and bowling, Lalaji knew practically everything about wickets. He could tell you exactly how to prepare one and, when it came to predicting behaviour, had few peers,” remarked former Board president Raj Singh Dungarpur, who knew Lalaji for decades.

Speaking to The Telegraph from Mumbai, Raj Singh added: “In remembering Lalaji, it will perhaps be apt to recall the late C.K. Nayudu’s words — and, mind you, CK and Lalaji weren’t the best of friends: “Put the two Vs (Vijay Merchant and Vijay Hazare) together and Lala will still be heavier. One needn’t say anything more...”

Appropriately, Lalaji was unanimously chosen the first recepient of the Board-instituted C.K. Nayudu Award.

The presentation was at the CCI, in Mumbai, and one remembers Lalaji being absolutely overwhelmed.

He needed Mohinder’s assistance to take the first few steps but, after that, Lalaji himself adjusted tie and coat and received the award standing ramrod.

Lalaji often didn’t have many kind words for the current cricketers but, whatever he said, was wholly because of heavy disillusionment.

Aaj ke khiladi... Bas chhodo... They want to be treated like pros but themselves play like amateurs. Bat-ball pakadne se koi Test khiladi nahin ban jata,” was one remark from the quintessential pro, made at the CCI, which lingers.

Incidentally, the outstanding allrounder that he was, Lalaji would have been a super-hit in ODIs, too.

Once dubbed the stormy petrel of Indian cricket, Lalaji left quietly — in sleep. It confirmed, yet again, that even legends can’t overcome the ultimate battle.    


 
 
PRAKASH STRIKE SAVES BAGAN THE BLUSHES 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5 
Mohun Bagan survived a scare at the Salt Lake Stadium today. Down by an early Abdul Khalique goal, they had to wait for 47 minutes before substitute R.C. Prakash equalised from a Jose Ramirez Barreto free-kick.

The display was so insipid that Mohun Bagan did not even manage to take advantage of Palash Ghosh’s expulsion following a second booking in the 75th minute which left Mohammedan Sporting with ten men.

With Barreto being bottled up by Insan Ali and Joao Santos struggling, Mohun Bagan never seemed to gain the upper hand. The attacks were wayward and lacked imagination. The midfield, despite the presence of Basudeb Mondal, was sloth.

Mohun Bagan, in fact, paid the price for their over-dependence on Barreto. All balls, aerial or otherwise, were directed at the Brazilian striker and it became all too easy for Mohammedan Sporting to sort things out. There was no effort to switch the game to the flanks.

“Today’s display is the worst this season,” conceded coach Subrata Bhattacharya. “We failed to have more players in the striking zone and that made things difficult for us,” he explained.

Mohammedan Sporting, on the other hand, relied on the counter-attacks. Nazim-ul Haq, operating from a little deep, was enterprising and along with the speedy Khalique and Kasif Jamal up front, was able to send tremors down the rival defence quite often.

One such combination almost resulted in Mohammedan Sporting’s second goal in the third minute of the second session. Kasif let himself free on the left edge of the box but his left-footer was brilliantly fisted away by an airborne Rajat Ghosh Dastidar.

Incidentally, it was the Kasif-Khalique association that gave them the lead in the seventh minute. Kasif’s low cross from the left was swiftly tapped in by Khalique. Amazingly, none of the Mohun Bagan defenders made any attempt to thwart Kasif or Khalique.

Kasif again came close a little later but Omollo came to the rescue, snatching the ball away in a timely and swift operation.

Mohun Bagan’s equaliser came through an error in judgement on part of the Mohammedan Sporting goalie Gopal Das. Barretto’s free-kick never seemed menacing, though, it evaded the human wall. Gopal complicated matters by committing himself to the wrong side early on. He was too late by the time he realised his mistake and Prakash was at hand to slot home the rebound.    


 
 
BHUPATHI, KNOWLES OUT 
 
 
BY A STAFF REPORTER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5 
Mahesh Bhupathi and Mark Knowles bowed out in the quarter finals of the $ 2.45 million Toronto Masters Series yesterday. According to information received here, the Indo-Bahamanian pair lost 6-7 (2-7), 7-5, 3-6 to the Australian duo of Joshua Eagle and Andrew Florent.    

 
 
CALLAYING WINS FILLIES STAKES 
 
 
BY STAR RACER
 
Calcutta, Aug. 5 
The Bharath Singh trained rank outsider, Allaying beat the half-money favourite stablemate to win Calcutta Fillies Trial Stakes today. S. Rabani partnered the winner. RESULTS 1. Aztec Cup 1,800m (1-4-3-2) Aldebro (C. Alford) 1; Deep Star (Ravinder) 2; Charlene (Rabani) 3; Too Soon to Tell (Manohar) 4. Won by: 1/2; 1-1/4; 1-1/4; (2-2.1). Tote: Win Rs 16; Place 12; 18; Quinella: 22; Tanala: 121. Fav: Aldebro (1). Winner trained by Vijay S. 2. Not Much Handicap 1,000m: (3-7-2-5) Analyzer (Ravinder) 1; Floral Path (Islam) 2; Constantine (Saran) 3; Silver Raising (M. Reuben) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; Nk; 3/4; (1-5.4). Tote: Win Rs 77; Place: 18; 25; 39; Quinella: 361; Tanala: 4,775. Fav: Run Ahead (5). Winner trained by D. David. 3. Clamp Handicap 1,200m: (2-1-4-3) Double Dancer (M. Reuben) 1; Flying Power (Amjad K.) 2; Quizzical (Islam) 3; Art Smart (Saran) 4. Won by: 2-1/4; 7-1/4; 8-1/4; (1-20.2). Tote: Win Rs 17; Place: 13; 65; Quinella: 100; Tanala: 321; Fav: Double: Dan-cer (2). Winner trained by Javed K. 4. Calcutta Fillies Trial Stakes 1,400m: (1-4-3-5) Allaying (Rabani) 1; Aracruz (C. Alford) 2; Alvarada (Ravinder) 3; Ardon (Gowli) 4. Won by: 1-1/4; 3/4; 4-1/2; (1-29.4). Tote: Win Rs 67; Place: 22; 12; Quinella: 40; Tanala: 216. Fav: Aracruz (4). Winner trained by Bharath S. 5. Orange William Cup 1,200m: (8-4-7-9) Clarice Cliff (Rabani) 1; Tsavo (Upadhya) 2; Head Hunter (Gowli) 3; Jeweller (Amil) 4. Won by: 1/2; 1; 1-1/2; (1-17.2). Tote: Win Rs 24; Place: 14; 18; 22; Quinella: 62; Tanala: 374. Fav: Clarice Cliff (8). Winner trained by Bharath S. 6. Matchlock Handicap 1,400m: (3-8-4-7) Crucible (C. Alford) 1; Bul Bul (Engineer) 2; Black Mane (Saran) 3; Alkido (Dalpat) 4. Not run: Go With The Wind (2). Won by: 1-3/4; 2-1/4; 4-1/2; (1-31.2). Tote: Rs 17; Place: 12; 15; 17; Quinella: 32; Tanala: 120. Fav: Crucible (3). Winner trained by Vijay S. Jackpot: Rs 13,974; (C) Rs 2,584. Treble: (i) Rs 256; (ii) Rs 582.    

 
 
PUNE TIPS 
 
 
BY HONKY DORY
 
 
Coming fresh from Bangalore, Amusing is fancied to win the 1,200m Akkasaheb Maharaj Trophy in Pune on Sunday.

SELECTIONS

12.15 pm: Piccolina 1. National Velvet 2. 12.45 pm: Avenging Angel 1. Catch Me If You Can 2. Final Recovery 3. 1.15 pm: Cloud Nine 1. Crystal Girl 2. Brave Venture 3.1.45 pm: Arabian Commander 1. Heart Breaker 1. Berliet 3. 2.15 pm: Amber Eyes 1. Thundering Grey 2. Majesty Of Law 3. 2.45 pm: Gorgeous Princess 1. Flensburg 2. Perceived Value 3. 3.15 pm: Amusing 1. Strength To Strength 2. Specialist 3. 3.45 pm: Amber Brown 1. Tiger Talk 2. Furiously 3. 4.15 pm: Monday’s Pride 1. Imperial Flacon 2. Classy Missy 3. 4.45 pm: Express Lane 1. Rebel Countess 2. Forever Sparky 3.

Day’s Best: Piccolina. Double: Cloud Nine & Amusing.    

 

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